There are many well known pieces of Malware that target Microsoft Word Macros - hence they are turned off by default in recent versions of the software.
Following Yvonne's comment re. how to keep Malware off your systems we spoke to discuss how to clean up her system.
My recommendation was to flatten the system (as she has a copy of the data offline), format the disk, re-install Windows XP from the ground up, apply Service Pack 2, apply subsequent patches, re-install the applications, ensure that all Macro capabilities are disabled and then re-introduce the data.
If you know of a way for malware to travel within a Word document other than via Macros then please comment on this post.
If I'm not mistaken it would be possible (but not necessarily likely "in the wild") for a malware-infected image file embedded in a Word document to take advantage of a buffer exploit (e.g. the JPEG scare a while back which turned out to be a bit of a damp squib). However as your recommended solution includes applying all the patches before playing with the data that should be an academic issue.
Nik> Good point. The recent image rendering vulnerability would be a route in for malware assuming the approprate patches are missing.
Thanks for contributing
I have been informed by AVG to install extra ram. that would be nice. Not convinced but since the prob. has all but subsided again, will watch to see if downloads affect the comp. However, the intitial appearance was on a new system- with no extra programs- when I downloaded a 70th word doc from the old file. And opening the doc. again does not create the prob. I am on standby for the next appearance of the virus and will immediatly reset the sys. if it happens.
Have just finished typing an old manuscript and as each file reached about 6,000 words the curser started jumping up two lines, or, after the y,u,b, etc. back to the begining of the word i.e. the word 'type' would look like 'pety'. You can imagine the mess if I continute typing fast and looking at the screen every page or so. Just about to go and get ram when it occured to me that if that is the prob. it would be common. Although the comp seems to be peaceful, I have lost the sound, also "MPService applet does not exist. I dont remember the other things missing but now and then an icon is missing from the desktop. The computer is slower. sometimes Word freezes halfway thru opening. I cant be the only person in the world with this problem. I dont want to spend money needlessly.