We shouldn’t be concerned about a lethal virus that jumped species, we are told. Why ever not? It’s a terrifying thought.
A virus that can do that poses no real threat, said a spokesperson. Well, that guy is a fool or a liar.
If a virus can jump from one species to another (we’ll come to the details in a moment), then nobody is safe and the idea that there is “no threat” is stupid beyond measure. In fact it’s deliberate disinformation. Presumably the authorities or boffins think that people are too stupid to be told the truth.
Or the authorities are too stupid to TELL the truth?
What got me started on this is a new report on a 2009 outbreak of lethal monkey virus that took place at the University of California, Davis. The virus jumped to a new species—the New World titi monkey—and wiped out over 80% of them.
This particular virus did also happen to infect humans but was actually non-fatal. So “no cause to worry”? Only if you like the idea of jumping out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet without using a parachute!
This was an adenovirus, so-called. These are the ones that cause common misery, such as colds and “’flu” (not influenza). Adenoviruses were thought to be species specific and not to be able to cross-infect. Well, the Earth was once thought to be flat. That didn’t make it true.
The point is, as I keep telling you in various ways, using the movie “Jurassic Park” as an example, that LIFE WILL FIND A WAY. Life just will not be contained in handy little boxes. It mutates, it shifts, life is cunning, resourceful and will do whatever it takes to expand and grow.
That’s why viruses keep mutating and every couple of years some new threat escapes into the population. Often they go nowhere and just die out naturally. But this occurrence in 2009 makes it very clear that we have been lucky, time after time, and that sooner or later our luck will run out.
“I definitely don’t want to alarm people,” declared study lead author Dr. Charles Chiu, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco (he also serves as director of the UCSF Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center). “Yes, this was a very deadly virus among the monkeys — perhaps the deadliest adenovirus ever seen. But this happened two years ago now, and we haven’t seen any evidence at all that this virus or any virus of its kind has continued to spread through the human population.”
Take that as comfort if you like.
I’m sure I don’t need to paint the picture for you of what would happen if an emergent virus learned to wipe out over 80% of humans, do I?
[SOURCE: July 14, 2011, PLoS Pathogens, online]