August 11th, 2018| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Stomach bugs affect a lot of people every year. From cruise ships to the Olympic Village, outbreaks can cause some pretty serious and difficult-to-treat stomach illnesses. Noroviruses create about 685 million cases of gastroenteritis annually—the commonest cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide—costing $60 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Rotaviruses affect 111 million people worldwide each year.

Researchers based in Laboratory of Host-Pathogen Dynamics of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda,
have figured out why these stomach bugs hit us hard and spread so rapidly.

“Vesicle-Cloaked Virus Clusters Are Optimal Units for Inter-organismal Viral Transmission,” published in Cell Host & Microbe, sounds quite dense, but here is the bottom line: Rotaviruses and noroviruses are shed (in stool!) not so much as individual particles, but as viral clusters that are more virulent units than free particles. Clusters of viruses are more effective at getting at human cells than are individual viruses. And this study holds that it is true in real life.

Said corresponding author, Dr. Nihal Altan-Bonnet, who studies host-pathogen interactions:

By being together, they infect an intestinal cell with a very high number simultaneously. Multiple viruses go inside that same cell. These clusters are like a Trojan horse—they enter the cell as one unit, and then once inside the cell they can attack very effectively. They cooperate and compensate for each other’s insufficiencies.”

There is, apparently, strength in numbers, as the viruses agglomerate and become a new sort of organism.

And in fact, not only are these clusters more contagious than individual particles, they can also cause more severe infections than freestanding ones. The mice and piglet subjects of the research got much sicker and stayed sicker longer.

Besides, the study shows that the protective membrane around these clusters are a sort of camouflage for these invaders that enable them to bypass the immune system of the host, making them even more harder to fight off.

Says another infectious disease expert who wasn’t involved with the study, Dr. Robert Atmar:

These results are significant. Such understanding may help us design strategies and interventions to interrupt transmission.”

The research team is planning to examine droplets from sneezes and coughs to see whether colds and even the flu can be transmitted in potent clusters.

Claims Altan-Bonnet:

My prediction is yes. It just makes so much sense now to think that viruses want to be transported together in large numbers.”

They “want” to be transported together. Hmm …

Isn’t it interesting that viruses “know” the value of cooperation? And we, humans, don’t, or at least live like we don’t.

When you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you;
1 Corinthians 11:18

For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,”
it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,”
it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? …
But now there are many members, but one body.
1 Corinthians 12:14–17, 20

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10

Let’s be like those viruses!

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