Science Questions with Surprising Answers
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Dr. Christopher S. Baird

How do antibiotics kill viruses?

Category: Health      Published: December 17, 2012

Antibiotics don't kill viruses. Viruses can't be killed because they are not alive in the first place. As presented in any Virology textbook, such as the one by John Carter and Venetia Saunders, viruses do not eat food, metabolize, or reproduce on their own and can't be considered life. They are just bits of DNA inside a protein shell. A virus has to take over your cell in order to do things that living organisms do. But then it's not really the virus that's alive. It's your cell that's alive; it's just in a zombie state. To stop a virus requires killing your own cells that have virus DNA inside, or halting their reproduction. Antibiotics don't generally do that.

Topics: antibiotics, bacteria, bacterium, life, virus, viruses