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Difference between Parasite and Virus

Difference between Parasite and Virus

When it comes to discussing the differences between parasites and viruses, there is a lot of confusion. This is mainly because the two are very similar in their appearance and structure. In fact, many people use the terms interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between these two organisms that differentiate them from one another.

What is Parasite?

A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its food from or at the expense of its host. Parasites can cause disease in humans. Some parasitic diseases are easily treated and some are not.

  • Parasitic diseases caused by protozoa, helminths, and ectoparasites are usually not difficult to treat. Treatment of malaria, for example, involves taking drugs to kill the protozoan parasites that cause the disease.
  • Treatment of some other parasitic diseases, such as those caused by trypanosomes or tapeworms, is much more difficult. There is no vaccine for trypanosomiasis, and there is only partial protection from reinfection after treatment.
  • Tapeworms that live in the intestine can grow to be very large and may cause irritation and blockage of the intestine, but they do not usually cause death unless the person also has another serious illness.

Most people who have tapeworms do not have any symptoms. Ectoparasites are parasites that live on the surface of their hosts’ bodies. They include lice, mites, ticks, and leeches.

What is Virus?

A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.

  • The study of viruses is known as virology, a subspecialty within microbiology. In average cases, viruses are about one-tenth the size of bacteria. However, some viruses can be as large as a bacterium.
  • The minute size of viruses relative to bacteria has led some scientists to refer to them as ” ultraviruses”. By convention, viruses are not considered to be alive because they lack autonomous metabolism and cannot reproduce on their own.
  • However, some scientists have described viruses as ” perfect parasites” because they possess unique characteristics that enable them to infect host cells and use cellular machinery to produce virions (virus particles).

When infected, a victim cell is often forced to produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus. These virions move on to infect other cells, causing illness or even death in severe cases. Some viruses also insert their genetic material into the host cell’s DNA, which can lead to serious mutations that can ultimately lead to cancer.

Difference between Parasite and Virus

  • There are many different types of organisms that can cause disease in humans, and it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Two of the most common types are parasites and viruses. Both of these can cause serious illness, but they are very different types of organisms.
  • Parasites are larger than viruses and live off of other organisms, while viruses are tiny and can only reproduce inside other cells. Parasites can often be seen with the naked eye, while viruses can only be seen with a microscope.
  • Because they are so small, viruses can easily spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. They can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces.

In contrast, parasites typically spread through contact with contaminated food or water. Both parasites and viruses can be dangerous, but knowing the difference between them is important for preventing illness.


The difference between parasites and viruses is an important distinction to make when discussing public health. Understanding the life cycle of a virus can help researchers develop new treatments and hopefully, one day find a cure.

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