China’s Mysterious Coronavirus is Spreading

China has witnessed a significant outbreak of a mysterious respiratory virus which has killed three people and has infected around 220 more. Such a scenario could give rise to the possibility of a deadly epidemic, similar to the one previously experienced 17 years back.

The virus was confirmed to be spreading from one person to another as there have been two such incidents reported where the medical staff, too, had been infected. It was confirmed by Zhong Nanshan, who is the head of the investigation team set up by China’s National Health Commission assigned to investigate this pneumonia-like virus.

A few authorities claim that this new strain of Coronavirus, which was primarily passed from animals to humans, is now traced to a seafood market located in Wuhan, a central Chinese city.

It could lead to a major outbreak of the virus as millions of people in China are making preparations to travel the world for the Lunar New Year Holiday. Zhong, who had previously been part of the team which helped to discover the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003; also said that this virus was not as strong as SARS, but the death rate caused by it is not so representative.

The virus was first discovered and surfaced at Wuhan, and the commutation of residents of Wuhan to foreign countries has resulted in the spreading of the disease to Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, each of which is hundreds of miles from Wuhan. Japan and South Korea have each supported one case, while Thailand alone has reported 2 cases, raising the global count to 222.

The World Health Organization stated that there was clear evidence of ‘limited human to human transmission’ of the newly discovered virus, which could mean trouble as the country is on the verge of its Lunar New Year holiday. The holiday period usually expects trillions of the Chinese population to travel throughout the country and overseas.

The virus was detected by temperature screening systems installed at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport when a 35-year-old Wuhan resident was boarding a flight to South Korea. She has been quarantined and is currently in a stable condition. She claimed that she had developed a fever and muscle pains and was also prescribed a cold medicine by a doctor in Wuhan.

While the viral infections had been linked to an Wuhan seafood and wildlife market, the store has been closed since the 1st of January to avoid further spreading of the illness. The investigation team of Chinese scientists had identified this pathogen as a strain of Coronavirus, which belongs to the same family of the fatal severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Imperial College London had conducted a new study that suggested that the number of infections in Wuhan might have been underestimated.

According to their calculations, there must have been over 1,700 cases in Wuhan so far. This calculation was based on flight and population data. Three US airports- namely New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have installed infrared thermometers to measure the temperature of passengers departing to the city of Wuhan.

Thus an outbreak of such a deadly epidemic is expected and countries are still taking steps to control and detect this new virus to prevent its spreading to other parts of the world.

What are your thoughts on China’s initiative to prevent the spread of the virus?

A Herpes Virus May Be the Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

Can a Herpes Variant be the clue to treating Multiple Sclerosis? With more than 8,700 MS patients and 7200 without MS used as a control group, researchers from Karolinska Institute have made a discovery that will push the science community a step closer in understanding what strain is contributing to the development of Multiple Sclerosis in some patients.

What is Multiple Sclerosis or MS? 

 Multiple Sclerosis often referred to as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease where a patient undergoes an abnormal response from their immune system. The patient is deteriorating their myelin, slowly destroying their central nervous system and leading to the disruption of signaling. The messages sent from the central nervous system are altered, causing the patient to have unusual responses. As the disease consumes and breaks down their CNS, a patient starts to feel one of the many symptoms: dizziness, vertigo, tingling, numbness, weakness, and involuntary muscle movements.

Herpes and the road to Multiple Sclerosis: 

To this date, there is no known cause for Multiple Sclerosis. Although it is still uncertain what causes MS in a patient, theorized by scientists in this field that certain strains of Herpes may play an essential role in the development of this disease. The two strains that have been the focus are HHV-6A and HHV-6B. Still, no clear explanations have been able to say that one strain causes MS. Serological separation been the barrier in understanding what virus causes this disease because of the difficulty in using this technology. Separating the viruses from one another may no longer be a barrier for scientists; thanks to researchers in Sweden, we are closer to understanding what strain is the contributor to this disease.

Scientists from the Karolinska Institute may have allowed us to understand what strain of Herpes causes this disease finally. Dr. Anna Fogdell Hahn and her colleagues were able to successfully purify and separate these two strains from one another by targeting the antibodies. Published on Frontiers in Immunology, “Increased that a herpes strain may be the reason why some people develop multiple sclerosis,” outlines what they ended up discovering in their experiment, that HHV-6A may be the contributor to MS. This came from an extensive clinical study examining protein 1A and 1B. Antibodies created in response to these viruses affecting a patient’s immune system. Patients with HHV-6A were at risk of developing MS 55% more than the control group. As for patients affected with HHV-6B, it wasn’t significant enough to say that HHV-6B causes MS.

By analyzing the patient’s antibodies, researchers discovered that HHV6-A is most likely the contributor to MS.

Interesting enough, patients affected with Epstein-Barr Virus or EBV, another herpes virus, had a higher risk of developing MS. This finding gives us an insight that perhaps infections may be the reason why some patients are at higher risk of developing this disease.

Conclusion:

Thanks to the research, we can potentially help develop the next novel treatment for patients who have Multiple Sclerosis. Where scientists and research target Herpes HHV-6A antibodies in preventing and stopping the further deterioration of the Central Nervous System.