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Viruses are obligatory intracellular microorganisms that live inside cells, using components of the nucleic acid and protein synthetic machinery of the host to replicate and spread.
Viruses typically infect various cell types by using normal cell surface molecules as receptors to enter the cells. After entering cells, viruses can cause tissue injury and disease by any of several mechanisms.
Viral replication interferes with normal cellular protein synthesis and function and leads to injury and ultimately death of the infected cell. This result is one type of cytopathic effect of viruses, and the infection is said to be lytic because the infected cell is lysed.
Viruses may also cause latent infections.