Sunday, August 30, 2015

6 of the Deadliest Viruses in the World

Viruses just seem to always pop up and cause havoc somewhere in the world.  We continue to fight these diabolical microbes constantly, and some of the viruses we encounter are so terrifying and deadly its astounding to realize that these guys exist in the world around us!  So here's a list of some  of the deadliest viruses in the world for you to read about, learn about, and stock up on hand soap and hand-sanitizer after reading this to try and not get sick from these.

6. Influenza

Surprisingly, a majority of people encounter this virus every year.  It causes the flu across the world, and as many as 500,000 people die every year.  The constant problem with this virus is how much it mutates.  Multiple strains can appear at any time, the most recent strain that rocked the news world was the swine flu in 2009.  Approximately 90 million people were infected across the world when the swine flu hit.  Even worse, the most horrible influenza virus pandemic was in 1918, which was known as the Spanish flu.  About 40 percent of the population on Earth in 1918 was infected, and wiped out about 50 million people in just two years.  Although vaccines for the influenza virus exists, the mutations and strains are difficult to stop.  Modern day vaccines only cover about 40 percent of known strains, while the other 60 percent are free to roam.  If a strain exists today like the Spanish flu strain, then we could be in for a very serious and very bad flu season.

5. Smallpox

For thousands of year, humans across Earth were ravaged by the virus known as smallpox.  The mortality rate claimed 1 out of 3 people that were infected, even killing 300 million people in the 19th century.  For those that survived the infection, the virus left them with permanent scars and even blindness.  We can't even blame animals for this disease; smallpox can only be carried and transferred by humans.  Just be thankful that this virus has a vaccine and was successfully eradicated in 1980.

4. Rabies

Did you know that without a vaccine, this virus has almost a 100 percent mortality rate?  This virus destroyed anyone it touched, driving them mad and killing them.  Even back in the ancient world, anyone bitten by a dog with rabies was killed by the virus after a couple of days, causing many to panic and fear the disease.  Luckily, the disease can be treated with a series of vaccines if the person infected is treated right away.  If not, the virus attacks the central nervous system and kills the host.  It can even cause hallucinations, violent behavior, and delirium among those infected.  Can you imagine how deadly this disease would be if it were airborne?  The zombie apocalypse would be right around the corner if that were the case.

3. HIV

If anyone had ever wanted to design a virus of the most extreme conditions, this would be the virus.  Past through bodily fluids and sex (which we do a lot), the virus attacks the host's immune system, and weakens the host by reducing the white blood cells and making the person more susceptible to any other disease.  Even modern day antiviral drugs can't stop this virus, we can only prolong the ticking clock that counts down to the infected's demise.  Ever since it's discovery in 1980, 36 million people have been claimed by HIV.  Let's just hope that a vaccine is discovered soon so we can finally halt the endless tirade of HIV.

2. Marburg

In 1967, this virus was discovered in Germany.  Unfortunately, some of the group was killed from the virus, after testing African green monkeys from Uganda.  Much like number 1 on this list, the virus causes hemorrhagic fever, shock, organ failure, and death.  The first outbreak only had a mortality rate of 25 percent, but the outbreak in the 1998-2000 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo had a higher mortality rate of 80 percent.  There is no vaccine made for this virus, and Uganda still reports some cases as of 2012.  Even crazier, was that an American tourist contracted the virus while exploring a cave in Uganda, and came back to Colorado and developed the symptoms.  He was treated, but the virus may now exist on American soil.

1. Ebola

Discovered in 1976, the Ebola virus is still new to the scene in terms of how long a virus has plagued humanity.  But there may not be one that is as scary.  With the most recent outbreak in 2014, the virus has a 90 percent mortality rate.  No vaccine against it exists, although some possible vaccines may be in the works.  Causing organ failure and death in almost all of its victims, Ebola brought widespread panic across Africa and even the world.  The country of Liberia even declared a state of emergency while the virus ravaged its people, closing off its borders to try and stop the onslaught of Ebola.  The scariest aspect of Ebola may not even be in its mortality rate.  Ebola has multiple strains, not just one strain.  So like the Influenza virus, we have no idea if another strain may mutate and cause even more havoc across the world anytime soon.  And although it may originate from fruit bats and some monkeys, the virus spreads quickly from human to human through bodily fluids.  So just how deadly could another Ebola strain be if one were to show up in the next couple of years before we even develop a vaccine against the strain in 2014?

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Theory of Eukaryotic Cell Origin

Within the cells of Eukaryotes lie many organelles.  The Mitochondria and Chloroplasts are examples of said organelles that provide the Eukaryotic cell with a certain function or process that benefits the cell.  Interesting enough, these two organelles actually have their own DNA, separate from the DNA of the cell itself.  So what does that propose?

Did the Mitochondria and Chloroplasts originate within the cell from the beginning?  Or were they actually bacterium that were absorbed slowly over time into the cell and assimilated?

This is the Endosymbiotic theory.  The theory states that the Mitochondria and the Chloroplasts originated as bacterium long before Eukaryote cells became what they are today.  Based on the information that the Mitochondria and the Chloroplasts have their own separate and unique DNA and share similar characteristics with bacteria, it is very possible that this theory is indeed true!  Here is a link that discusses the theory and what it all means:

http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Evolution/Endosymbiosis.htm

So taking from that information, one can see how this theory poses a possible solution to the origin of the Eukaryotic cell that we see today!  The organelles could have originated from a family of bacteria and were at one point assimilated during a primary endosymbiosis action. 

Now this isn't a relatively new theory, it's been around for some time.  So none of this may seem like new news to some people.  But I decided to investigate further, and ask another question along with what was stated above.

If the Mitochondria and the Chloroplasts were a bacterium that was swallowed up by the cell, could other pieces within the cell have similar origins?  Say, the nucleus?

Now the nucleus is evident in almost if not all living cells found in the world today.  But what's strange is how different the nucleus is in a Eukaryotic cell when compared to the rest of the microbial world around us.  Bacteria and Archaea have a nucleoid, which is not membrane bound, quite the opposite of Eukaryotic cells.  So where did our membrane bound nucleus come from?

There is another theory that has been circulating around within the past 15 or so years of Viral Eukaryogenesis.  Basically, it proposes that the nucleus in our cells could have been a virus.

Yup, a virus.  One that had a complex DNA genome within that when it infected the ancient Eukaryotic cell, the host genes and the viral genes combined to create a virion that established itself within the host cell; that when the virus introduced mRNA translation, linear chromosomes, and other viral characteristics to the host cell, it created a microenvironment where the virus had a much more efficient and beneficial role.  This theory is touched upon in these two links, the first being a quick summary of the theory and the second being a more detailed analysis of Viral Eukaryogenesis and Endosymbiosis:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11523012

http://www.intechopen.com/books/meiosis/meiosis-its-origin-according-to-the-viral-eukaryogenesis-theory

The second link is a long read, but it presents some absolutely amazing evidence that supports the theories listed in this post.

Above all, these theories aren't conclusive and set in stone, they are still theories.  But did our cells originate from bacterial, archaeal, and viral ancestors?  Were we the product of our ancient simple cells assimilating other forms of microbial life and become a more efficient cell?  We may eventually prove these theories to be utterly true, or come up with different evidence that would support an entirely different theory.  But the evidence is a little overwhelming, and our cells may have originated from Mother Nature deciding to have a little fun playing Dr. Frankenstein.

Basis of the website

Hello everyone!  Please feel welcome to read, comment on, and share the posts I put up here with others!  And if I state anything that may be wrong or incorrect in the slightest, don't hesitate to correct me!  We are all learning new things each and every day, and not even I know everything.  Keep on exploring the world around you, and let's make this world a better place through science!