WHERE DANGEROUS VIRUSES COME FROM AND HOW?
“The rainforests hold answers to questions we have yet to ask.”
– Mark Plotkin
The beautiful undiscovered world of the rainforests. Tropical wealth of nature, the lungs of our planet, the 3 % of the all land surface that holds even up to 50% of all species.The big embarrassment of the greedy world population, the selfish people who has caused the total destruction of the forest wilderness. The human race has continually killed the Earth’s oxygen for years so it doesn’t surprise me really that the dark tropical forests became the dangerous place for us.We send them visible death, they send us invisible death back. Viruses. They are almost like a stealth army of this planet, which is taking the last stand to protect itself against us, so called humans, pests.
Why I am keep writing that tropical forests can give answers to the science about the origins and roots of many dangerous viral disease? Because they can due to the facts that they hold many unveiled species and pathogens. Through the process of deforestation and industrial colonization of the land of nature, the dark, deep jungles are unleashing their own soldiers, microbes. They are ready to jump from one host to another, to mutate and to kill.That is how we get outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics. That is the way how the Earth is killing its own parasites.
When the science writer, Richard Preston published his famous novel “The Hot Zone”, that was considered as a top bestselling book based on serious investigative work. He was following the genesis of Ebola virus and he observed the inputs and outputs in the ecosystem. His ideas about the Planet being like an organism which has immune response against human species were not taken so positive among pro-population supporters. But, at the end of the day, he expressed something that other were thinking:“The emergence of Aids, Ebola and any number of other rain forest agents appears to be a natural consequence of the ruin of the tropical biosphere. The emerging viruses are surfacing from ecologically damaged parts of the earth, like Mount Elgon. The tropical rain forests are the deep reservoirs of life on the planet, containing most of the world’s plant and animal species. The rain forests are also its largest reservoirs of viruses, since all living things carry viruses. When viruses come out of an ecosystem, they tend to spread in waves through the human population, like echoes from the dying biosphere.” Mr.Preston detected the core of the problem, the reason of global health issues with contagious diseases and their roots. His observations has opened the big debate among the virologist, doctors and public health officers but they didn’t stop the aggressive appetite of profit to keep making the virus factories worldwide.
At the moment when the new virus is born, the world is always starting with conspiracy theories. It must be produced by scientists and laboratories, it can’t be by nature. Why it can’t be created by nature?Does nature owe us anything?No, actually it has all rights to deal with us and to punish us as the race that has never made to be a human. It is more than interesting to see how fast the information about the deadly virus travel around but the picture of demolished rainforests are not even enough shared and viewed as catastrophe. Again double standards. It doesn’t matter what we destroy as long as IT doesn’t start destroying us. Then, it is a panic, cataclysm, Armageddon even before the predicted religious end of the world.
Where is the dangerous virus born? Nobody really knows, the virus hunters can only guess.It can be some cave hidden in Africa or South America. Suddenly, some hunter or explorer is going there for a professional reason and hurt himself on the rock. Maybe he is a scientist who searches for a new exotic plants but ended up being infected with the new deadly virus. Missionaries who do not give up to find distant primitive tribes and to convert them into monotheistic religion but brought us new rider of Apocalypse. That could be anyone, anywhere doing anything. The person who is crossing the line of mutual respect and who wake up the “revenge of rainforests” . The patient zero.
Once after the virus has jumped from the one species to another or from the host to vector and vice versa, the chain of transmission is ready to be multiplied. Lately, the majority of deadly viruses has come directly from animals and the zoonotic diseases are one of the worst. The science states that during the process of getting from one species to another, the virus always mutates and changes its basic attributes. In our cases, it means the damaging clinical image and the harmful development of the viral illness. The problem with emerging infectious diseases is that medicine has no tools for adequate diagnosis so the medical response is failed. If you have no idea what is Ebola or how it looks like, you can’t cure it with options you have for Hanta or Lasa. Many viral diagnosis share the same evaluation and only the real expert with stable epidemic experience can see the slightly differences a long before the laboratory tests confirm the doubts or deny them. Unfortunately, then it is late for the patient and if we talk about the highly contagious virus, for everyone around.
The bad ability of some African countries to deal with the highly dangerous viruses is the reason of lack of medical equipment and advanced medical technology and research. If we recall the memories on the all outbreaks investigation recently, we will see that they can not do much without help from the WHO or CDC. It is not questionable because they do not have the technical possibilities to respond on the epidemics and if no one helps, the epidemics can become the pandemics, especially in the age of global air traffic circulation. Now, our virus that popped out from the hurt rain forest can travel from Africa to America, and from America to Europe in just one day. The brutal killer can harvest wherever it arrives.
Some researchers come out with the theories that the deadly diseases have something to do with the ground that is very poor in selenium. The statistics in the USA reports that soil poor in selenium has a higher death rate from HIV, the similar has been recorded in Zaire, that also has no enough selenium in the ground. Regarding China, the lack of selenium is very bad so the disease which are occurring there.Why viruses and selenium are linked?The ideas are still not proven totally:“The researcher and virologist Melinda Beck made an interesting study with her co-workers in 2000 which showed that mice deficient in selenium that are infected with a harmless Coxsackie virus get an infection of the heart. This infection is similar to Keshan Disease and many of the mice died. Mice with an adequate reserve of selenium did fine. What was especially interesting was that mutated Coxsackie virus was found in the selenium-deficient mice, but not in those not deficient. However, when researchers took the mutated virus from the dead mice and infected the healthy ones, they too died. Afterwards the researchers found six mutations created in the selenium-deficient mice. A vitamin E deficiency also seems to make otherwise harmless viruses mutate.” Basically, the nutritional state of the body is also responsible for attaching the virus, surviving it or being defeated by the bug.Just as a reminder, at the beginning of Ebola madness, some people have also survived this deadly molecular shark. They are still alive. That means that random killing has something to do with the defence or immune system of each organism.
The gene therapy nowadays is promising about many viruses but it is not almighty. This genetic engineering of replacing DNA sequences could be used for creating the majestic biological weapons (e.g.Chimera virus, Hybrid of all) or the cure for deadly microbes. Keeping in mind the current security atmosphere in the world, I believe that governments are more interested in making the perfect microbiological hitman, Frankenstein virus that will be able to kill without mercy and effectively, than to think of inserting the gene sequences in DNA to discover the best anti-virus killer. In the first situation, they empower their weapons industry and potential in asymmetric conflict and in the second case, they could possibly save lives and bring profit to the budget of some of the greediest pharmaceuticals gangs.
For virologists, the biggest challenge is to go and find the reservoir of the deadly virus. Some of them are spending the whole life in the deep, mysterious rainforests, chasing the virus. Ian Lipkin, C.J. Peters, Nathan Wolfe are just some of them who stand on the fire, facing up with the tiny monsters from the jungle, trying to solve the puzzle of genes and to save the humans. The viruses are the most adaptive killing machines and when they are ready to go and hunt, the angry rainforest is lurking our fear in the silence.