Researchers On Alert To Find Dangerous Mutated Viruses

Researchers Warning Of New Mutant Viruses

Researchers On Alert To Find Dangerous Mutated Viruses


Researchers Warning Of New Mutant Viruses

As new evolving viruses becoming more dangerous, local researchers are in a race against time to discover the mutations and protect the human race.

There is a new flu virus on the east coast that is attacking seals and sea lions. This virus — called H3N8 — was discovered after taking blood specimens from about two hundred seals on the east coast. Researchers say it evolved from the bird-influenza virus.

Veterinarian Dr. Bill Van Bonn from the Marine Mammal Center is vigilant when any animal arrives at the center. Viruses can adapt and jump from animal to humans.

“They are really good at adapting to the environment and changing over time,” explained Dr. Van Bonn.

Virologist Dr. Charles Chiu runs UCSF’s Diagnostic and Discovery Center. He and colleagues are detectives searching the globe for unknown killers.

Last Thursday he reported finding a completely new intestinal virus in sick California children, called the M-X Polyoma Virus.

Because similar viruses cause chronic diseases including cancer, researchers are now beginning to screen for M-X Polyoma Virus.

“There may possibly be an association with g-i cancers such as colon cancer,” said Dr. Chiu.

Just six weeks earlier, they reported finding a new African virus that may be responsible for widespread deaths. The BAS Congo Virus looks like rabies, but causes horrific rapidly fatal hemorrhagic fever, like Ebola. And it is passed from person to person.

Chiu and colleagues are right now examining samples from Yosemite’s deadly Hantavirus outbreak. That incurable mouse virus may have mutated making it even more dangerous to people.

“Because we can’t predict when the next pandemic or next epidemic, it’s really important we maintain constant vigilance,” said Dr. Chiu.

UCSF’s Diagnostic and Discovery Center does that with powerful high-speed DNA sequencing and computers. Finding tiny strings of virus DNA and RNA, which are virtual needles in the haystacks of biological samples and comparing them to known viruses.

“Because we know very little about the spectrum of viruses that cause disease in animals, I think we’re always at danger of having emerging viruses that can cross species,” said Dr. Chiu.

Every flu pandemic, SARS, the mysterious Heartland Virus discovered this summer in ticks, plus all the others we discussed emerged from animals to infect people.

Viruses have existed for at least 200 million years. Bits of viral DNA and RNA are in fact, in all human cells. It’s believed that viruses have likely shaped human evolution.

“I don’t think we should fear them, but we ought to respect them and understand them as much as possible,” said Veterinarian Dr. Van Bonn.

It’s estimated 95 percent of viruses are unknown. So make no mistake about viruses; scientists say we’re in a war for survival.

Baby boy born without arms in Washington State

Baby boy born without arms in Washington State

A Spokane couple is looking for help to give their baby boy prosthetics.

Jameson is a miracle to the Davis family. After two miscarriages, Brooke and Jim Davis were thrilled to find out they were pregnant with Jameson in 2011.

However, at their 20 week ultrasound it was clear that something wasn’t right with the Davis’ baby.

“I could see his face. His kicking heart was great and at the end they told us that there was something wrong with our baby. They couldn’t really elaborate on it, so that was tough,” Brooke said.

Additional ultrasounds revealed Jameson did not have arms. Doctors still can’t seem to explain why Jameson was born without arms and they are afraid they may never be able to.

“They warned us he may not survive, but when he was born he came out screaming. He was pink as can be. Everyone was like ‘he was adorable,'” Brooke said.

Just as Jameson is beginning to teeth, he is also beginning to get frustrated that he can’t crawl and hold a bottle. That is why Jameson’s parents are now trying to raise money to buy him prosthetics.

“He’s trying to grasp things. He wants to hold the pacifier to his mouth. He wants to hold the teather,” Jim said.

The Davis’ are heading to Portland at the end of the month to get Jameson fitted for prosthetic arms. However, insurance will only cover 44 percent of the cost for the arms. The family will need $13,000 to cover the rest.

“The prosthetics will allow him to crawl and they will have interchangeable hands so one will be cosmetic, one will be for crawling and one will be for grasping,” Brooke said.

Doctors expect Jameson will need new prosthetics every 18 months. Friends and family came together Saturday morning to raise money over pancakes and coffee.

“We love him and we want to do everything we can,” Brooke said.

Jim and Brooke need $5,000 dollars in the next two weeks as a down payment and then they will need to come up with another $8,000 by the end of the year.