Press your spaceface close to mine

The Virus is Calling From Your Own House!

Posted by Sunday on Apr 21, 2008 at 2:34 pm in Weird Science

When I was in high school I thought I was going to be a epidemiologist. I wanted to be an astronaut, but the Crohn’s Disease left me a memo that said “Bitch, you can’t do math anyway, so get over it.” Some years before my mom had purchased me a copy of The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett (it was on sale and looked like the kind of thing a introspective, unpopular teen might like, I guess) (I love my mom) and from then on I was hooked. It helped that The Andromeda Strain was one of my favorite movies of all time.

But time does strange things and my interest waned. It may or may not have had to do with finding out that any epidemiologist worth their mitochondria spend years wading knee-deep through corpses in sub-Saharan Africa. And it wasn’t the corpses that bothered me, it was the safari outfits and the appreciation for eating grubs. It also might have been the copious amounts of LSD and an FBI file the size of the Manhattan Yellow Pages. I can’t remember those years too well.

So you can imagine that when I read the Pennsylvania State University announced they’d found the source of influenza I blew a little of my coffee all over the place. Researchers have long known that viral “reservoirs” must be present in order for the viruses to achieve longevity – in other words, they require a vacation home. Influenza has been a real bitch over the years, spreading reliable little farts of infection with taunting ease. But where the hell is it when it isn’t “flu season?”

The answer? “We think it is a reservoir in the tropics.”

I can only hope that the original Nature article had something more to say about the reservoir other than guessing it might be in a tropical climate. Because anyone with a DVD player and a tolerance for Dustin Hoffman could speculate that the reservoir might be in the tropics.

Terrible article that makes it sound like the Penn State researchers came up with the idea that influenza infects in annual waves from United Press International

Much better article found at Science Daily

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April 21st, 2008 | Weird Science

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