Deadly viruses seem to jump species all the time

Image: Penry Price / AFP / Getty Images What is known is that coronaviruses — the deadly strain of rabies virus that was behind the man in Britain, the unfortunate Haiti child, and most…

Deadly viruses seem to jump species all the time

Image: Penry Price / AFP / Getty Images

What is known is that coronaviruses — the deadly strain of rabies virus that was behind the man in Britain, the unfortunate Haiti child, and most notably, the Chinese man who died of hemorrhagic fever — are good at airborne transmission. People can either get infected by inhaling a tiny particle of virus that has traveled along an infected bodily route, or they can get it through contact with an infected animal, because that’s where the virus is currently abundant.

The virus infects the respiratory tract in its infected humans, but it can also jump from one species to another. Even after global conflagration spread it from birds and rats to human and reptile populations in China, where it’s killing more than 1,000 each year — according to the CDC, there hasn’t been an actual case in a place as populated as the United States. Even here, among those currently most at risk, the disease’s health researchers would like to see fewer cases in person, and more among wildlife, to decrease this bottleneck of population, of potentially infecting potential vectors.

Injection in the lung and eyes is thought to be the chief way that humans acquire the virus. We saw the corona virus survive beyond a mile from a human host, then pierce the skin of a half a foot away — where you’re unlikely to be — as if to implicate it, or perhaps spit in our faces. Then there’s Ebola, which can survive on surfaces, inside animal reservoirs, and in the general air, but it’s notably all of these factors that preoccupy scientists about how to stop a deadly disease like this. The answer may soon lie in travelling a virus to a specific location — but so far, we’ve not put a case on paper to say exactly how that would work.

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