Even healthy people carry viruses in their bodies!

On an average, healthy individuals carry about five types of viruses in their bodies and the same viruses that make us sick can take up residence in and on the human body without provoking a sneeze, cough or other troublesome symptom, says a significant study.

Even healthy people carry viruses in their bodies!

“Lots of people have asked whether there is a viral counterpart (to bacterial flora) and we have not had a clear answer. But now we know there is a normal viral flora and it is rich and complex,” said study co-author Gregory Storch from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. In 102 healthy young adults aged 18 to 40, researchers sampled five body habitats: nose, skin, mouth, stool and vagina.

At least one virus was detected in 92 percent of the people sampled and some individuals harboured 10 to 15 viruses. Analyzing the samples, scientists found seven families of viruses, including strains of the herpes virus that are not sexually transmitted. Strains of papillomavirus were found in about 75 percent of skin samples and 50 percent of samples from the nose.

Not surprisingly, the vagina was dominated by papillomaviruses with 38 percent of female subjects them.  Some of the women harboured certain high-risk strains that increase the risk of cervical cancer. Adenovirus, the virus that cause the common cold and pneumonia, also was common at many sites in the body. It is possible that some of the viruses the researchers uncovered were latent infections acquired years ago.

“But many viruses were found in body secretions where the presence of a virus is an indicator of an active infection. Dormant or latent viruses hide in cells, not in body fluids such as saliva or nasal secretions,” added lead author Kristine M. Wylie, an instructor of paediatrics.

According to researchers, it is very important to know what viruses are present in a person without causing a problem and what viruses could be responsible for serious illnesses that need medical attention.

The study appeared online in the journal BioMed Central Biology.

Source: business standard

Guinea Ebola outbreak: Bat-eating banned to curb virus

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Guinea has banned the sale and consumption of bats to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, its health minister has said.

Bats, a local delicacy, appeared to be the “main agents” for the Ebola outbreak in the south, Rene Lamah said. Sixty-two people have now been killed by the virus in Guinea, with suspected cases reported in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Ebola is spread by close contact. There is no known cure or vaccine. It kills between 25% and 90% of victims, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting.

‘Quarantine sites’

It is the first time Ebola has struck Guinea, with recent outbreaks thousands of miles away, in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr Lamah announced the ban on the sale and consumption of bats during a tour of Forest Region, the epicentre of the epidemic, reports the BBC’s Alhassan Sillah from the capital, Conakry.

People who eat the animals often boil them into a sort of spicy pepper soup, our correspondent says. The soup is sold in village stores where people gather to drink alcohol.

Other ways of preparing the bats to eat include drying them over a fire. Certain species of bat found in West and Central Africa are thought to be the natural reservoir of Ebola, although they do not show any symptoms.

Health officials reported one more death on Tuesday, bringing the number of people killed by Ebola to 62, our correspondent adds. The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has set up two quarantine sites in southern Guinea to try to contain the outbreak

Health authorities are receiving help from the WHO while messages are being broadcast on national television to reassure people. Sierra Leone’s health ministry said it was investigating two suspected cases of Ebola.

“We still do not have any confirmed cases of Ebola in the country,” its chief medical officer Brima Kargbo told AFP. “What we do have are suspected cases, which our health teams are investigating and taking blood samples from people who had come in contact with those suspected to have the virus,” he added.

Mr Kargbo said one suspected case involved a 14-year-old boy buried in a Sierra Leonean village after he apparently died across the border in Guinea two weeks ago, AFP reports.

The other patient was still alive in the northern border district of Kambia, he added. Five people are reported to have died in Liberia after crossing from southern Guinea for treatment, Liberia’s Health Minister Walter Gwenigale told journalists on Monday.

However, it is not clear whether they had Ebola. Outbreaks of Ebola occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, the World Health Organization says.

Source: BBC

How Viruses Take a Short Trip from London to NYC

Using measures of connectivity between airports, rather than actual distances, makes it possible to better predict where an emerging infectious disease will strike next, the researchers of a new study said.

In the study, the researchers defined an “effective distance” between any pair of airports in the world based on the air traffic between them, rather than the miles. The resulting model predicted when a newly emerged disease could reach any given place, for both simulated future outbreaks and real epidemics of the past — for example, the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

The model was also able to quickly identify the origin of an emerging pathogen, which is essential for determining a disease’s cause and finding ways to curb its further spread, according to the researchers, whose study will appear tomorrow (Dec. 13) in the journal Science.

“With this new theory, we can reconstruct outbreak origins with higher confidence, compute epidemic-spreading speed and forecast when an epidemic wave front is to arrive at any location worldwide,” said study researcher Dirk Brockmann, a theoretical physicist who conducted the research at the Northwestern University. “This may help to improve possible mitigation strategies.”

The researchers calculated the effective distances between cities based on air traffic because such traffic reflects how many people travel a certain path, and how often. With the results, patterns of disease spread that once seemed complex start to look simpler, the researchers said.

“If the flow of passengers from point A to point B is large, the effective distance is small,” said study researcher Dirk Helbing, a professor of sociology at the Swiss university ETH Zurich. “The only thing we had to do was to find the right mathematical formula for this.” In addition to defining effective distances between airports, the researchers also defined the shortest paths for indirect journeys, and included models of local spread of disease within a city.

Infectious diseases have long been spread across borders by travelers. For historical cases such as the spread of the Black Death in Europe, simple, intuitive models that focused on geographical distances between places could show how a disease spread.

Today, however, travelers are just a few hours’ flight from distant destinations, and so physical distance no longer determines how a disease will spread.

Source: Discovery news