General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

If a virus were to kill off humanity, would that mean that the virus won?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10280points) June 9th, 2010

if a virus is strong enough to wipe out humanity, I imagine it would have to be a virus that is specifically focused on human hosts. If the virus successfully exhausted all of the human hosts, and could not mutate to affect other animals, wouldn’t the virus lose too?

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14 Answers

GeorgeGee's avatar

As a rule, parasites don’t kill their hosts, for the reasons you alluded to. No hosts means no future for a parasite. The agenda for a parasite isn’t to create misery, it’s to propagate itself. Viruses while not true parasites are similar with respect to the fact that they can’t survive or reproduce without a host.

JLeslie's avatar

Killing off all of its hosts would mean it will die to, although viruses are not really alive, although I guess maybe that is arguable.

Tobotron's avatar

I imagine that this couldn’t happen because if it was it would have happened by now, indeed it has already happened to some, the western cold/flu killed a lot of the Native Americans for example, it was totally deadly to them!

But this is all part of the design argument I think, no parasite is concious of the fact that its host is not limitless in number.

You could argue if we keep reproducing in our number as a parasite of the earth will we eventually kill it? NO I doubt it, we would die off and life would return to normal eventually. Maybe the same applies to human parasites.

CMaz's avatar

“if a virus is strong enough to wipe out humanity”

Hopefully it mutates to the point of keeping its hosts. Before they all die off.

Possibly (eventually) killing off the human race. Then staying dormant till ET crosses its path.

On a side not, human race dies off. So does the cattle and milking cows. Most of the horses, pigs, chickens and such. Needing human intervention to survive.

JLeslie's avatar

HIV is an interesting virus in that left untreated it was passed on to offspring, and then they were likely to die before reproductive age.

However, it was not a perfect virus, even without advances in medicine, because it has been noted that the Delta 32 mutation might give people resistance to the virus, similar to the belief that this genetic mutation protected people from the plague. I guess another negative of the virus is it is not contagious through the air.

This article is facinating

I worked with someone who was positive HIV and all of his frieds and boyfriend died years before I ever met him. He had been positive for 17 years last I saw him, never sick. His father lived to be 99, barely sick a day in his life, no major illnesses ever. I have to wonder if they had this mutation.

JLeslie's avatar

@Ltryptophan I didn’t think to wikipedia it. Thanks.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@JLeslie don’t mention it

jackfright's avatar

It probably means it no longer matters.

anartist's avatar

won what?

Parrappa's avatar

Isn’t the goal of all living things to reproduce? I don’t know much about Biology, but I don’t think killing as much as possible is the goal of a virus. Considering they aren’t self-aware and aren’t in control of their actions, they can’t win if that isn’t their intent.

majorrich's avatar

I enjoy a game of ‘Pandemic’ every so often, but rarely think about what would happen after I wipe everyone out.

lillycoyote's avatar

No, because wouldn’t it’s host die?

mattbrowne's avatar

No. It would be a lose-lose situation. Therefore viruses and hosts don’t work that way.

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