Viruses

Page 3.14

Category archives for Viruses

Outmaneuvering Influenza

Flu season is gearing up in the northern hemisphere, and this year’s strains appear more virulent than usual.  In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control declared an epidemic on January 11; the CDC estimates that between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from influenza or its complications every year.  By comparison, the infamous flu…

Inadvertent Overkill

In Uganda, the fourth outbreak of Ebola in twelve years has killed sixteen people. On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham says the virus is “readily transmissible,” kills quickly and assuredly, “and the way it kills is gruesome – causing massive bleeding from all orifices.” These may seem like dominant characteristics, but a virus is not a…

Malaria and the Inner Armies

On ERV, Abbie Smith writes “Malaria kills 1.24 million people a year. Mostly babies under 5 years old.” Malaria, although carried by mosquitoes, is caused by a single-celled protist which infects the liver and goes on to parasitize red blood cells. Now, a little genetic engineering could put a stop to this scourge. Smith says…

Divergent & Convergent Evolution

On ERV, Abbie Smith reports that scientists have discovered an entirely new branch of viruses in the boiling acid pools of Yellowstone National Park. By analyzing RNA segments from the pools, researchers inferred the existence of positive-strand RNA viruses with unknown genetic configurations. Smith writes, “These viruses are not just kinda new. They are really really different from the RNA viruses…

Genetic Mutability

We’ve all heard of bird and swine flu, but bats, which comprise “about a fifth of all known mammalian species,” also carry a diverse host of viruses. By swabbing the rectums of little yellow-shouldered bats, researchers in Guatemala discovered a new influenza virus that defies easy classification. Flu viruses are described by two key genes—hence…

All About Antibodies

ERV familiarizes us with the different “layers” of the immune system, including intrinsic, innate, and adaptive immunity. The last layer makes specific antibodies to recognize pathogens, but in the case of HIV, capable antibodies aren’t enough to stave off the progression of disease. ERV writes, “HIV-1 evolves to escape these antibodies…and your body can’t catch…

A Booster Shot of Science

Vaccines have guarded health and life for centuries, relegating once devastating diseases to near total obscurity. But many people now take vaccines for granted, and some blame vaccines for autism and other disorders. On Respectful Insolence, Orac reports the downfall of 1998 research which first tied MMR vaccines to the occurrence of autism in children.…

Virus Season

As we shiver in the northern hemisphere, holiday cheer isn’t the only thing in the air—there are also flu, cold, and other contenders just waiting to hit a mucous membrane. Revere questions H1N1 terminology on Effect Measure, citing “10,000 deaths, 47 million infections and over 200,000 hospitalizations” caused by the virus, with the “heart of…