Viruses are microscopic parasites, generally much smaller than bacteria.They lack the capacity to thrive and reproduce outside of a host body.
Predominantly, viruses have a reputation for being the cause of contagion.Widespread events of disease and death have no doubt bolstered such a reputation.
The 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, and the 2009 H1N1/swine flu pandemic (a widespread global outbreak) likely come to mind.While such viruses certainly are wily foes for scientists and medical professionals, others of their ilk have been instrumental as research tools; furthering the understanding of basic cellular processes such as the mechanics of protein synthesis, and of viruses themselves.
How much smaller are most viruses in comparison to bacteria? Quite a bit.With a diameter of 220 nanometers, the measles virus is about 8 times smaller than E.coli bacteria.At 45 nm, the hepatitis virus is about 40 times smaller than E.coli.For a sense of how small this is, David R.Wessner, a professor of biology at Davidson College, provides an analogy in a 2010 article published in the journal Nature Education: The polio virus, 30 nm across, is about 10,000 times smaller than a grain of salt.Such differences in size between viruses and bacteria provided the critical first clue of the former’s existence.
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