Friday, December 12, 2014

Turns Out, Stupidity IS Contagious

Scientists have discovered a virus that makes you dumber. The virus, referred to simply as "Algae virus,"ATCV-1, has never before been detected in healthy people until this year. Scientists at Johns Hopkins stumbled across the virus during an unrelated study of throat microbes. 44% of the study participants tested positive for the virus, and, following a series of examinations, performed approximately 10% worse on tests dealing with visual processing speed and accuracy. Later tests conducted by the same scientists showed similar activity in mice.

Algal virus ATCV-1 binding and entering an algal cell.

ATCV-1 normally infects various species of eukaryotic green algae, and until recently was thought not to infect living humans. However, follow-up studies have confirmed it as a regular member of the pharyngeal virome. No studies have shown demographic concentration of any kind; infection seems to be unbiased. It is unclear how the virus is transmitted, though it has been hypothesized that the virus travels through water, thus putting swimmers and direct associates in more danger than most.

Viruses affect us a lot more than we think. The extent of our ignorance surrounding the human microbiome is staggering – as the next few decades progress, I expect many more findings like this will be released.

-Matthew Billman


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