The viruses are not really "alive", as the only way they can replicate themselves is by hijacking the cellular machinery of the host. In order to do this, they need to be able to enter the cells. This is a complicated process and typically glycoproteins present in the envelope of enveloped viruses (such as herpesviruses) play a role in this step. So, damage to the envelope would result in the inability of the virus to enter the cell and therefore the virus would be considered "dead" as it cannot propagate itself any longer. It may still "look" like an infectious virus, e.g. has the typical herpesviral structure under electron microscope, but pretty much what's remaining is a mixture of viral proteins, lipids and sugars, which in time would "disappear" as any organic matter does...
This is why enveloped viruses are typically pretty fragile and do not survive well outside their hosts - most of them can be easily "killed" with common disinfectants. In general, they also do not survive well drying or heating (e.g. sunlight), but may retain their ability to infect new hosts for longer (e.g. days) in the dark, humid environment (e.g. a cave, a shaded water trough etc).
Magda Dunowska, LW (vet), PhD
Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Infectious Diseases (Virology)
Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences
Te Kura Mâtauranga Kararehe
Phone : (06) 356-9099 ext 7571
Website : http://ivabs.massey.ac.nz
From: virology-bounces from oat.bio.indiana.edu [mailto:virology-bounces from oat.bio.indiana.edu] On Behalf Of virology-request from oat.bio.indiana.edu
Sent: Thursday, 6 August 2009 5:04 a.m.
To: virology from magpie.bio.indiana.edu
Subject: Virology Digest, Vol 39, Issue 1
Send Virology mailing list submissions to
virology from net.bio.net
To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
virology-request from net.bio.net
You can reach the person managing the list at
virology-owner from net.bio.net
When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Virology digest..."
1. When a Herpes Simplex Virus "dies" (M2)
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 2009 22:54:48 -0500
From: M2 <M2slo2cht from gmail.com>
Subject: [Virology] When a Herpes Simplex Virus "dies"
To: bionet-virology from moderators.isc.org
Message-ID: <lpvh75t7abkvumpol4pq2f1jucbo2cb25s from 4ax.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
I'm a layman with a question.
I've been told that a Herpes Simplex Virus dies almost immediately
when it sloughs off the surface of the skin. But I've also been told
that a virus isn't actually a living organism. So my question is, what
actually happens to HSV when it "dies"? I've always assumed it's
envelope disintegrates and it simply falls apart and disappears.. Am
Thanks in advance
Virology mailing list
Virology from net.bio.nethttp://www.bio.net/biomail/listinfo/virology
End of Virology Digest, Vol 39, Issue 1