Viral infection can result in several different outcomes for the virus and the cell. Productive infection, such that each of the seven steps outlined above occurs, results in the formation of progeny viruses. Cells productively infected with poliovirus can yield up to 100,000 progeny virions per cell, although only a small fraction (fewer than 1 per 1,000) of these are capable of going on to carry out a complete replication cycle of their own. Productive infection may induce cell lysis, which results in the death of the cell. Nonenveloped viruses typically induce cell lysis to permit release of progeny virions. Many enveloped viruses also initiate events that result in cell death by various means, including apoptosis, necrosis, or lysis.
Viral infection may be abortive, in which one or more necessary factors, either viral or cellular, are absent and progeny virions are not made. Infection may be nonproductive, at least transiently, but viral genomes may still become resident in the host cell. Herpesviruses and retroviruses can establish latent infections. Latently infected cells may express a limited number of viral products, including those that result in cell transformation. Latent infections can often be activated by various stimuli, such as stress in the case of herpesviruses, to undergo a productive infection.