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Anthropomorphic Hazard: Ebola Mutating

2014/09/10

– That’s what viruses do. They mutate to survive. Is this a mere Teleological fallacy or by extension something else entirely?

Viruses mutate, for whatever reason. Some of those mutations have a better chance of surviving attacks by immune systems, or whatever else is out to destroy them.

So, while it may appear to us that viruses mutate to survive, that’s only because we’re not paying attention to what happens to the individual viruses. No virus actually chooses to mutate as a survival strategy.

See: Ebola virus mutating rapidly as it spreadsOutbreak likely originated with a single animal-to-human transmission.

Unstoppable: is Ebola mutating?

(Snip)

The longer a virus circulates, the more it changes its genetic material.”Even a single change in the genome can have huge consequences,” says Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg.He confirms that mutations can increase the contagiousness of a virus.

Mutations could also make the illness break out sooner, or alternate the course of the disease – increasing the potential of a patient’s developing encephalitis.The disease could also become airborne. And that would be disastrous: the infection rate would increase exponentially.

Hundreds of mutations

An international research team has analyzed about a hundred Ebola virus genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone. The patients were diagnosed with Ebola in late May to mid June.The researchers found more than 300 genetic changes that make the 214 Ebola virus genomes distinct from the viral genomes tied to previous Ebola outbreaks. Moreover, over 50 changes had occurred since the start of the 2014 outbreak, suggesting the virus is in fact mutating.There are many cases where a change to the genome of an organism has no consequence.But in this current outbreak of Ebola – with this particular strain – the researchers found a number of genetic mutations had altered proteins in the virus, potentially with disastrous affect.

The team led by Stephen Gire, a scientist with the Sabeti lab at the Broad Institute and Harvard University, wrote about their findings in “Science”. They say some of the changes could influence doctors’ ability to diagnose Ebola in the field. The data suggest that “continued progression of this epidemic could afford an opportunity for viral adaptation, underscoring the need for rapid containment.”

Unknown consequences

But Stephen Gires says they “don’t know whether these differences are related to the severity of the current outbreak.”

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit agrees, saying it is impossible to judge by looking at an altered genome whether the changes will translate to alter the biological appearance of a virus.

“Even if a virus mutates rapidly, it doesn’t mean something will happen,” Schmidt-Chanasit says. Many changes are minor. They are bound to happen when a virus spills over from one host to another, and especially in an epidemic, such as the one we are seeing in western Africa.

The area of research which investigates the relationship between genomes and the “behavior” of a virus in the field is called reverse genetics, and it’s in its infancy.

Schmidt-Chanasit says that if investigations regarding this behavior in Ebola were to start now, they would take long time to complete, and would be of little help in the current outbreak….more at link

Not to forget observing the bigger picture.  The very essence of Socialism is proven to be Neo-Feudalism, (see) Liberal Academia has been wanting a b-virus to wipe out the “overpopulation” for some time…. This type of Liberalism has always hated the middle class, but they don’t mind the expendable menial worker, unskilled worker, day laborer, blue-collar worker, or peon, because they can CONTROL THEM!  In fact, they will go to great lengths to import them not only to to make the food for the elite, but to provide them a further means for more power.

Recall hearing, “immediate intervention was vital...” Anyway, never let a perceived threat go to waste!

See also: One Response to Teleological fallacy:

Teleological fallacies are those which might assign purpose or false purpose to things which do not have any. However, there is a fundamental misunderstanding what teleology really means (even those young earth creationists et al. fail here, taking a very naive view owing largely to their acceptance of the common mechanistic worldview). Aristotle and Aquinas have in mind something much for fundamental, that is, that towards which something is ordered. For example, when you strike a match against a matchbox, the match doesn’t turn into an elephant or start an new big bang. It is determined to function a certain way. Some may call this affordance, but affordance presupposes a a nature or an order. Now, one might argue that the match will behave differently depending on the efficient cause, and this is true, but that’s those are rather lesser realizations of a thing. The environment that you speak of is not special because it too evolves and indeed other living things also constitute the environment for a given individual. Since the environment is made of things, they two are ordered and thus one may say that the entire universe and is by extension ordered toward something.

At the least also try to understand the principle of teleology and its sometimes fallacious application to nature.

Related Commentary: Ebola Surveillance Thread

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