I’ve got a virus?

Influenza Virus H1N1 HA Protein

In fact, I have many more than I have ever thought about. I was reading an article by Elie Dolgin in the Spoonful of Medicine (love that name!) blog that is a brief review of newer research in the area of virology. I was struck by the thought that these little wonders that were virtually unknown less than a century ago likely play a very important role in my life and health.

The thought that there are many little creatures living in and around me has kept me interested for years. I think about bacteria when I am cooking. I teach my kids to religiously wash anything that touches raw meat immediately. I know there are good bacteria and bad bacteria and that antibiotics often cause problems even as they cure disease.

But I never really thought about the possibilities of the lowly virus. I have a mental picture of viruses being much smaller and more delicate. I have the notion that they are unable to live outside of body fluids or in unstable temperatures and therefore are much easier to exclude from my body.

It turns out that I may have a complicated mix of viruses inside my body that control my health, stress, weight, habits, interests, life expectancy, and much more. Once you start thinking about all the possibilities, it quickly becomes apparent just how much we don’t know about this situation.

Does a virus control whether or not a person will be successful in life? Do those little critters help decide who will go to college? Will I be a football fan or baseball? Will I get sick a lot or have a rather healthy life?

Maybe it IS something in the water! All of those inexplicable strange things that happen to many of the people in communities around the world could be caused by the local viral citizens!

Why are some communities more motivated than others? Why are some more kind and caring? Why do some groups of people tend towards violence more often? Why are people from colder climates generally more subdued and thoughtful?

It’s something in the water …

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