This week’s selection of fascinating virology links:
The story of poverty, population density and a deadly pathogen. Whilst more about Freetown, Sierra Leone than the Ebola virus, this is one of those articles that blossoms understanding in the minds of those fortunate enough to be on the other side of the planet. The virus is fascinating and deadly, but it’s the human side of the equation that is by far the most complicated. The photography is really great here too, but just a warning that some photos early on in the article are harrowing.
It’s an absolute truism: yes, it’s mutating because it’s a virus. Connor Bamford slams the recent lazy headlines about the virus mutating with a comprehensive explanation of what we mean by mutation, what the likely consequences of this are, why you shouldn’t worry about it and why we need to continue tackling Ebola as we currently are.
A virus to keep on the radar: the snappily named Enterovirus D68. The circulation of this virus increased in the US last year, coincident with strange cases of fever, respiratory illness and paralysis in children and young adults. There is no smoking gun connecting the virus to these cases of paralysis at the moment, so why mention them in the same breath?
The most important reason is the timing of the cases – the virus could be isolated from some of the people suffering from sudden onset paralysis – but correlation is not causation, and assuming the virus is responsible could prevent us treating people if it’s not actually the cause. The second reason suspicion is being cast on the virus is due to our history with one of its close relatives – Poliovirus.