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November 15, 2011 at 9:01 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

The Magellan Virus Effect

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the A New Itch Blog Series

Cold and Flu season has arrived and I'm sure we are all busy stocking our medicine cabinets with medicines that have proven effective over the years. We can prevent our pants off, but it still seems that there is a cold or flu bug that slips into the house each year and proves itself worse than the previous years.

I'm not writing on how to prevent the cold or any version of the flu. That is an uphill climb I am just not willing to make. I'd like to tell you instead, about some new research that sheds some light on where these viruses come from and where they go after they totally screw up your holiday season.

Researchers have recently found that their initial supposition that most of these viruses come from Southeast and East Asia was dead wrong. Studying the H3N2 virus over a three year period, comparing the genetic makeup of the virus in different locations to there original estimate of Asian descent, the researchers found that the viruses that were moving were much more evolved than those that presented themselves in Asian regions. As a matter of fact, the Asian viruses were actually on the way out, while the viruses that were rotating around the globe continued to evolve in complexity.

This discovery allowed the scientists to, first, look at themselves and throw out a big, "our bad," to Asia. Second, to start tracing the genetic material found in the most active viruses back to their origins. For example, the flu epidemic that hit New York around 2005, actually originated in Australia and made its way across the globe.

The same scientists that made this discovery have also admitted to their lack of knowledge when it comes to tracking these glorious explorers, citing the difficulty in tracking due to modern transportation and the ever evolving nature of the viruses.

What does this mean for you?

Number one, prevention is more important than ever. Yes, washing your hands every five minutes can be a pain in the rump, but let's face it, a big dose of puking your face off for a week is no treat either. Personally, I'd wash my hands with some awesome smell good soap over watching you struggle to keep your breath from smelling like last nights dinner any day of the week.

Second, a better understanding of where these little explorers come from will lead us to better ways to combat their genetic evolution and destructive effects on our species.

So, the next time you come down with a nasty case of the flu, think about the fact that some bloke down under was recently feeling the same need to worship the porcelain gods.

Next Week in [A New Itch]

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  • What is it with Australia?!

    Interesting blog, E. :)

  • I must say, I haven't ever really given much thought to where my cold or flu has come from, beyond looking at the people directly around me. But it makes sense that viruses can travel far quickly, with the rise (no pun intended) of airplane travel.

    It makes me think of when I was in Romania. On the plane from London to Bucharest, one of the girls in our group got violently ill. One by one, our group began to get really sick - 5 or 6 people total got it, I think. Luckily, none of the Romanians we were with (even the little kids) got sick. I wonder if they had already been exposed to the virus? With how fast and far those little suckers can travel, you never know!

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