A virus, ATCV-1, that was previously only known to infect algae was recently found to infect a humans. What’s particularly frightening, though, is this virus’ effect on the human brain. Patients with the virus detected in their throats and mouths had newly and markedly impaired mental abilities, particularly their capacity to process visual information.
This link was an unexpected discovery in a study of what were previously thought of as healthy people. Study participants underwent a series of tests, including a throat culture and cognitive assessment, which is where the alarming correlation was brought to light. Future studies and monitoring is needed, though, as the sample size was very small – only 33 individuals.
The chlorovirus is thought to have jumped from algae to humans in lakes where the virus historically grows. However, the mode of transmission is still entirely unknown. The study was conducted in Baltimore, so perhaps this is a unique event to this region – or maybe we should begin to look at the rest of the nation’s affected lakes for this mysterious algae-to-human transmission.