Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska stumbled on to chlorovirus ATCV-1, a DNA virus which comes from algae, while doing an unrelated test on throat microbes. Forty-three percent of patients tested had it in their throats. Among other things it is found to lead to cognitive problems. You can read some mainstream articles here, here, here and here.
I think the headlines should have read a lot differently. This discovery could have big implications for people for a few reasons. Yet, where is the media panic now? No...now it's been made cute and funny by dubbing it the "stupid virus."
Before we get carried away with giddy headlines pointing out how so many people must have "caught stupid" - let's get a couple of things straight.
1. This is not a "stupid virus," per se - The "stupid virus" title is meant to be a humorous, eye catching marketing hook for bored journalists. It's actually an unwittingly cruel joke. In the original study, the researchers refer to cognitive decline and memory problems due to the virus. The researchers who had swabbed healthy people wrote that they found a "modest but statistically significant decrease in the performance on cognitive assessments of visual processing and visual motor speed." As well as changes of gene expression in the hippocampus, memory formation and immune response. They also said it affects behavior.
However, do you know how many things lead to cognitive issues? Do we call Alzheimer's "Stupid Dementia"? Do we say an epileptic is acting "dumb again" when they go into seizures, thought to stem from the hippocampus? No. But if cognitive decline equates stupidity then I vote to call BPA a "stupidity chemical"; fluoridated water is "stupid juice"; heavy metal toxicity in food, air and water are "stupidizers"; pesticides could be "smartcides." Because all of those things directly affect the brain. But cognitive problems are not indicative of stupidity, so it's a cruel misnomer to detract and minimize them by calling a damaging virus a stupid maker.
2. It could have been called the ADHD virus. If this virus can mimic symptoms that are often left to the mental health field then shouldn't people with Alzheimer's and ADHD be properly tested to make sure a virus isn't actually causing their symptoms? Or even epilepsy, schizophrenia and PTSD. The fact that it affects the hippocampus is a concern. Forget stupid, do you want to have early onset Alzheimer's and not be able to create new memories? And it would be cruel to call someone with that serious brain issue "stupid."
The more I read up on this, the more it sounds like the exact picture of the group of symptoms commonly called ADHD.
From the Daily Mail:
Tests showed the virus had broken through the barrier between blood and tissue, altering the activity of genes in the brains of the mice.
The genes affected including those producing dopamine - a vital hormone which influences memory, spatial awareness, emotion and pleasure. (emphasis added)ADHD with a forecast of Alzheimer's.
3. Another more accurate headline would actually be freaking out about yet another kingdom-jumping disease. This time involving plants-to-humans. That really isn't normal. The people who tell me this are parroting the articles that are sensitizing people to get used to it. Historically speaking, I don't see the rampant cases of kingdom or even species jumps that have exploded in the last 50-100 years. Let's be clear: this virus comes from algae and hadn't been observed in healthy humans before. When it was, they didn't think it was harmful. But they conclude: "Our study indicates that viruses in the environment not thought to infect humans can have biological effects."
It seems like I read about these "isolated incidents" once a week now. Furthermore, researchers say they don't KNOW how the jump happens - or if it's contagious or if we make good hosts. That's a problem and deserves more than a stupid, passing headline.
The human body houses many viruses, no less, DNA viruses. I just wanted to point that out to alleviate potential panic. This isn't necessarily "bad" it just is what it is for now, although I would love to see how people could live if they did not have the bulk of them. Most people have had Chicken Pox (varicella zoster) and it stays latent. Later, one could have Shingles (herpes zoster) during a time of immune suppression or stress. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (cold sores of the mouth) are present in 80-90% of people and appear during times of stress. The above also happen to be DNA viruses. This list goes on and on...
But how many of these latent and emerging viruses can one person handle? Especially those that affect the brain? And what happens when the immune system is compromised and the viruses come roaring out like a sleeping dragon? That creates a mega load on the body and constant stress of the immune system.
Can I recommend one source for helping the body slough off some of those problems and prevent more? It's Herbal Antivirals:Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections by Stephen Buhner. He says, when it comes to emerging disease, that garlic and colloidal silver from the healthfood store just aren't going to cut it. Not when it comes to mystery illnesses or mutated disease. He himself reversed chronic Lyme (bacteria) and helps others do the same. If he could overcome a questionable animal-to-human disease that only emerged in the late 1970s, I would act on his herbal sensibilities to help the immune system fight off more.
Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.