Virus Killing Bacteria
Name: Jerome M.
Is there a virus killing bacteria?
When somebody talks about a virus "living", they really are talking about the
ability of that virus to reproduce and make copies of itself. That can only
happen inside a functioning cell, which can be a bacterial cell, or in a
laboratory in a test tube.
The consequence of a virus "living" is that it usually kills its host cell in
the process. Within your body, your immune system fights off a viral
infection by killing those cells that are infected with the virus before the
virus is finished replicating. Those half-cooked viruses can not go on to
infect other cells and are (for all purposes) "dead."
It is unlikely that there is a bacterial strain that can kill a virus.
Bacterial cells do not cooperate the way your immune system does, and so the
only way that they could prevent the virus from replicating would be to
self-destruct. For instance, they might make some toxin that would kill a
bacterium infected by a virus, but not an uninfected one. I am not aware of
any examples of that.
Christine Ticknor, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University
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Update: June 2012