The Melissa Virus was one of the first widespread viruses, which spread by infecting Microsoft Word files.
When the Word files were opened, the virus code would run and infect the Normal.DOT template file used by the Microsoft word program.
Now any Word document saved contained the Melissa virus.
Melissa used the autorun macros in a Word document and ran a VB script when an infected Word document was first opened.
Microsoft now has a feature called Macro Virus Protection that can stop macros from running and this protection should not be disabled.
If the virus has attached itself to an application, the code in the virus is run every time the application runs. The virus code will have the same privileges as the host application.