For all the people that said the zombie apocalypse couldn’t happen, scientist may have just found the first signs that it could.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t the first step of the zombie apocalypse, but this virus is actually really interesting. Not just because virus has completely switched hosts from plants to animals, but because it is making people stupid. The virus, now known as ATCV-1 was originally found in brain tissues of humans years ago, but it was dismissed as contamination. That idea changed when the virus was found in throat cultures of living humans, who all happened to suffer from psychiatric diseases.
Dr. Robert Yolken and his associates from Johns Hopkins UniversitySchool of Medicine, were doing research into pathogens that could potentially be linked to certain psychiatric diseases when they discovered ACTV-1 in the patients they were studying. At that time, ACTN-1 was only thought to exist in freshwater algae.
So, Yolken did a follow up study of 92 people and found that; not only did 43% of the people have the virus in them, but that it was responsible for up to a 10% reduction in cognitive abilities. To further test the theory, Yolken did the same tests on mice, and got the same results. According to the study: “Unexpectedly, we identified DNA sequences homologous to virus ATCV-1, an algal virus not previously known to infect humans, in oropharyngeal samples obtained from healthy adults. The presence of ATCV-1 was associated with a modest but measurable decrease in cognitive functioning. A relationship between ATCV-1 and cognitive functioning was confirmed in a mouse model, which also indicated that exposure to ATCV-1 resulted in changes in gene expression within the brain. Our study indicates that viruses in the environment not thought to infect humans can have biological effects.”
Okay, now before you start pointing to some of the “dimmer light bulbs” in your life – take note that no one truly knows how humans contract the virus, or how much it really affect broader populations. This particular study was done in Baltimore, so there could be other environmental factors in play. What the study does show, is that we are still learning, every day, new things about our bodies and the world around us.
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