Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Child From 17th-Century Europe Might Have Rewritten the History of Smallpox

The article described a finding regarding the age of the smallpox disease. An evolutionary geneticist worked with scientists in Lithuania to analyze the genes of crops from the mid 1600s; one crops that this geneticist analyzed was the viral virus, also now n as smallpox. While Duggan was not originally looking for smallpox, this was an exciting discovery, w and is the oldes definitive trace of smallpox that has been found.
After finding this sample, the scientsits worked to compare this sample with other viral stains that had been collected in the 190s ad found that, based on the number of mutations, viral actually arose in the late 1500s or 600s, which is MUCh later than researchers had thought beforehand.
What is so striking about this discovery is that scientists are now questioning - what was the source of earlier plagues that scientists had thought was due to smallpox? Perhaps it was chickenpox or emasles? Furthermore, what was the supposed “smallpox” that wiped out many Native Americans… if it were not variola (as this most recent discovery indicates that viral was only originating the late 1500s), then it must be another virus! I wonder what other virus could have had such deadly effects so similar to smallpox, and it makes me concerned tha ta similar epidemic could break out in the future if it is not a virus that humans ad treatment for or vaccination against). 
This article i fascinating, as it reminds me to always questions what I know regarding viruses, even if this might lead to a paradigm shift in the way that viruses are considrered. I wonder how many other viruses we might have wrongly identified in history!  

- Ashley Jowell


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