Virology is the study of viruses – submicroscopic, parasitic particles of genetic material contained in a protein coat and virus-like agents. It focuses on the following aspects of viruses: their structure, classification and evolution, their ways to infect and exploit host cells for reproduction, their interaction with host organism physiology and immunity, the diseases they cause, the techniques to isolate and culture them, and their use in research and therapy. Virology is considered to be a subfield of microbiology or of medicine.
Virus contribute significantly to the global burden of infectious disease.
We experience countless infections throughout their lives, with particularly high frequency in early childhood. While most of these are mild, viruses may cause severe disease in susceptible individuals, such as the mal-nourished, immuno-compromised, the very old and the very young. Recent years have also seen the emergence of new viral diseases such as HIV, SARS and “swine flu”.