Humans have been in constant battles with viruses from time immemorial. From computer viruses to those found in living organisms, viruses have always caused havoc; Human Immunodeficiency virus, Ebola, and the most recent COVID-19 viruses are among the few that quickly come to mind. While scientists continue to research why they are so potent and keep surviving, here are some quick facts about viruses you probably didn’t know.
1. Scientists Discovered a 30,000 Year Old Virus in 2014
In 2014, scientists discovered a 30,000-year-old giant virus while drilling through the arctic ice in Siberian permafrost. Interestingly, the virus was still alive, killing amoebas immediately after hibernation. The scientists named it Pithovirus sibericum.
2. Viruses Reactivate During Spaceflight
In a study conducted by NASA, it was discovered that viruses tend to reactivate during spaceflights. Crew members aboard space shuttles often notice the reactivation of dormant viruses like herpes. Scientists believe the viruses are triggered by stressors like cosmic radiation, an altered sleeping cycle, and social separation.
3. Some Viruses Can Catch Viruses
Although viruses are known to attack other living organisms, some viruses can infect other viruses. Scientists at the Centre National de la Recherche discovered that a virus called mimivirus had another tinier virus called Sputnik. The latter is the first virus known to parasite on another virus.
4. Some Viruses Are Beneficial
Some viruses form a symbiotic bond with their hosts, which can be beneficial. For instance, some viruses in the human body can attack cancer cells. Others are known to help plants survive extremely hot conditions.
5. The Ebola Virus Can Survive in a Man’s Genitalia for 2 Months
Even after a male has been cured of the Ebola virus, the virus can continue to stay in his genitalia for up to two months. It is also possible that the affected male can pass the virus to a female through copulation.
6. A Spoon of Seawater Contains Millions of Viruses
According to research, seawater contains many viruses necessary for regulating the growth of marine life. Over 200,000 virus species are estimated to be in any ocean, with new ones being discovered regularly. A spoonful of seawater contains millions of viruses.
7. There is a Virus that Causes Obesity
Adenovirus-36, abbreviated as Ad-36, is a virus linked to causing human obesity. Scientists have discovered the presence of Ad-36 in 30% of plus-size human beings. It can also cause pneumonia, bronchitis, and the viral pink eye. Ad-36 is spread through direct contact.
8. A Doctor in South Africa Tried to Create a Virus that Would Only Affect Black People
Dr Wouter Basson was accused of trying to create a virus that would only affect black people. He was working at the South African Defense Force as head of the military’s chemical and biological warfare division when the incident allegedly happened.
9. 8% of Human DNA Comprises of Ancient Viruses
Scientists have discovered that at least 8% of human DNA comprises ancient viruses passed down from generation to generation. These viruses have evolved to help the human race counter infections they may not know.
10. Some People are Resistant to HIV
Researchers have uncovered that there is a small population that is resistant to HIV infection. Even though it’s unclear what causes this, most of the people with this trait revolve around ones who are frequently exposed to the virus, such as s*x workers.
11. Viruses are Not Living Organisms
Unlike bacteria, viruses are not living organisms. They do not absorb food, and neither do they metabolize it. Viruses only survive when they find a host or an environment with suitable conditions.
12. Some Viruses are “Naked”
Most viruses, such as the common cold, have an envelope membrane in biology. However, some do not have this, hence the name “naked viruses.”
13. Chickenpox Virus is a Form of Herpes
Chickenpox, a common childhood illness, is a form of herpes scientifically known as Varicella-zoster. Just like herpes, it can stay inactive in the body for years and is highly contagious.
14. Religious Websites are More Likely to Spread Computer Viruses than p*rn Sites
Ironically, religious websites carry more viruses than p*rn sites. From research done by a security firm called Symantec, religious websites have three times more malware than adult sites. Unlike religious websites, p*rn sites have, over the years, been victims of numerous malware attacks. Therefore, most adult sites spend a great deal of money on anti-malware. Religious website owners probably assume they are safe from hackers, making them an easier target.
15. The ILOVEYOU Virus Costed Damages Escalating to 10 Billion Dollars
During the early 2000s, a computer virus called ILOVEYOU put the internet world to a standstill. It affected millions of computers worldwide, disrupting government and business operations. More than $10 billion worth of damages were reported.