Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is it possible to kill a virus for good

  1. Jun 7, 2012 #1

    Previously, I thought like everyone else that viruses were alive inside and dead outside the hosts body. However recently I read a book which discussed diseases. According to it, (the scan of the page is attached) there was an outbreak of a virus caused disease (flu) in 1918 in Alaska. In 1950, the virus was rediscovered and it did'nt infect suitable hosts because it was dead. Does this mean that it is possible to kill a virus for once and for all. If so, what methods are used for killing the virus and as a result of such methods what goes wrong in the virus which makes it rest in peace.


    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2017 Award

    Viruses are rely on many proteins to be able to infect host cells, replicate its genetic material, and create new viruses. For example, influenza (the causative agent of flu) has proteins in its outer envelope that allow it to attach to cells, enter into the cell, and release its RNA for replication. Any treatments that damage these proteins (for example, by causing them to unfold) or the genetic material of the virus, will cause the viruses to be noninfectious. For example, irradiating a surface with UV radiation or treating it with bleach will irreversibly damage the viral particles and render them non-infectious. Simply leaving the virus to dry out on a surface will eventually inactivate the virus as well (because the component proteins will irreversibly unfold in the absence of water as it dehydrates).
  4. Jun 7, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  5. Jun 8, 2012 #4
    The concept of dead and alive becomes really hazy with things like viruses. By alive inside they actually mean the viruses can replicate only in a host while dead outside doesn't really mean that they are gone for good but just sort of an inactive state. That said, viruses can be permanently destroyed by damaging any vital structural component of the theirs.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook