Scientists have found a virus that makes people stupid. It was originally known to affect green algae but had never been found in humans, until now.
The virus was found by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Medical School during a study of other microbes in the throats of humans. That’s where they found the virus, nestled comfortably in the throats of subjects of their study.
|The virus, found for the first time in humans, was known to affect green algae.|
“This is a striking example showing that the ‘innocuous’ microorganisms we carry can affect behavior and cognition,” said Dr. Robert Yolken, the virologist that headed the study.
Known as ATCV-1, the virus had been found only one other time in human brain tissue, but at that time it was dismissed as researchers could not be certain whether the virus was present in the brain before the subject died.
The current study focused on 92 participants. Of those, 43 percent were found to host the virus, which impairs visual processing and spacial reasoning.
There’s not any reason to be afraid of the virus, however. It’s currently unknown if the virus is common outside of the area of the study. “If you ask me if I am worried about the existence of this virus, I am not,” said Joram Feldon, a neuroscientist with the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
Ultimately, more studies will need to be performed to confirm the findings of the Hopkins study. However, the finding opens the door to more questions about the relationship of our bodies with the microorganisms inhabiting them.
|Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.|