The Emergence Of Viral Host Switching Biology Essay


This article gives a summary of the emergence of viral host switching. Viral host switching is basically a way a virus can get transferred to another host by means such as through environmental factors, geographical factors, and human social factors (Parish, et al, 2008). Specifically, viral host switching from animals to humans may occur by sexual contact, farming, or agricultural expansion. However, separation from host to recipient may greatly affect the amount of viral host switching due to geographical, ecological, and behavioral barriers of transfer ( Parish,et al, 2008).

From the article it stated that in order to have an epidemic of a virus, it is important to have enough recipients or density to increase transfer. Also, intermediates hosts can also help with the emergence of new viruses because it may bring viruses from animals that may have not contacted with humans yet or with other hosts. Thus, intermediate hosts may facilitate in an emergence of a virus, which can cause an epidemic if environmental, geographical, and behavioral factors come in to play with it (Parish, et at, 2008). An example of an emergence of a disease that is caused by viral host switching is HIV/AIDS, which is a recent example of an emergence of a disease from viral host switching. For example, HIV-1 was in the host of the Old World primates and it went to the new host, which are the humans. Due to host transfer, this virus emerged as an epidemic on the new host by host switching and also adaptation.

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Another example of an emergence of outbreaks on a new host due host switching is the virus that causes measles. Its original host was the cattle and now its new host is humans. These viruses are not the only examples of emergence of outbreaks due to host switching. Other viruses included in the article are: small pox virus, CPV, influenza virus, and SARS CoV virus. The CoV virus is an example of the most recent virus that caused an outbreak due to host switching (Parish, et al, 2008). From the examples of these out breaks the article gives reasons why it is important to know how to minimize outbreaks and it also discusses how viruses enter hosts, their barriers that they come across and how to control the emergence of outbreaks.

The article also discusses the genome of viruses. Basically, recombination in the viral genome can reduce mutations that are harmful in viruses. Furthermore the viral genome can have multiple genetic changes in its genome and which can be transferred to another host. An example of mutations in the viral genome is the H2N2 and 1968 H3N2 influenza A virus ( Parish,et at, 2008). Recombination is not seen that much in negative stranded RNA viruses. High rates of recombination is associated with the HIV retrovirus however. Studies on recombination of viral genome from primates and humans were discussed in the article. The article explains that the SARS CoV appears to have arises because of a recombinant between a bat CoV and another virus. Also, the receptor binding sequence may have come from a recombination of a group 1 human CoV as seen in the data in the article. Furthermore, recombination or reassortment of the viral genome can be harmful for viruses in that it can destroy protein structures and some functional aspects of their genome ( Parish,et at, 2008)

The article also discusses how human induced changes may help spread or impede an outbreak of a disease. Specifically, changes in human behavior such as sexual contact, farming changes, or moving to another city can help promote a spread of a virus. It can also help or reduce host transfer if the georgraphic factors or climate factors are in favor of it. Also some barriers for host transfer could possible be the specificity of the host, problems in replication and antiviral responses. However more research is still needed to be done in this category ( Parish et al, 2008).

From this article my opinion was that I was very interested in learning about viral host transmission. It made me very curious about learning more about this topic. However, I did not see any recent changes or experiments done that can help with the topic of host transfer. I still really do not understand the purpose of learning more about viral host transfer and how it can be a benefit it viruses are suppose it be bad. I guess It is an important concept because if microbiologist learn where the virus is coming from they can help reduce it by creating certain drugs or genomes that can break viral genomes and wont be able to spread. Furthermore maybe this topic should be considered because it can give a origin of where the virus came in the first place. For example may be due to learning about host transfer and how viruses can transfer from other hosts diseases such as measles and HIV can be found or be predicated in a population. Thus, if there are more hosts in a population or region the virus may be occurring there more.

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From this article I feel that I have a better understanding about how viral transmission can take place. It can basically take place everywhere as long as there is a host. Thus, I guess host transfer is an important concept because viruses need hosts to live. I can see that may be this concept is good in medicine as well because may be some viruses have new hosts and certain dugs can be made to kill those viruses that may be infected new hosts. I feel that this topic may need further research on and I think it may take time in finding out an ultimate way of reducing the number of diseases in a population. However concepts and ideas about viral host transmission is very useful in helping microbiologists learn more about a particular virus, it genome, and the hosts it uses.