MadSci Network: Virology

Re: Can bacteriophage or viruses in the blood pass through the walls of the capillaries?

Date: Fri Feb 11 14:47:47 2000
Posted By: Michel Ouellette, Grad Student in Microbiology/Immunology, U. Laval
Area of science: Virology
ID: 949950131.Vi


Good question, and a very simple answer to it : YES!

The size of viruses range from 10nm for the smallest to 500nm for the biggest (nm = nanometer = 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter). The average human cell size is 100um (um = micrometer = 1/1,000,000 of a meter)which means that a virus is 200 to 10 000 times smaller than an average human cell. As a better way to understand the scale of this, imagine a pin head (2 millimeters) beside a 6 stories building (20 meters).

Capillaries cannot keep such small things from "leaking" since they are designed for letting some proteins, gases and other small molecules leak.

I hope this answered your question,



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