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A virus is a minute infectious organism visible only by an electron microscope. A virus lacks an independent metabolism and can replicate solely within another living "host" cell. They are responsible for some of the most important diseases affecting man: e.g. influenza, poliomyelitis, smallpox and yellow fever.

Subgroups are classified according to their origin, mode of transmission and manifestations produced in the host; many are named for the geographic locations where they were first isolated.

Ingelfinger, F.J. 1980. Dorlands Medical Dictionary. Saunders Press Pub., Philadelphia. 740.