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No. 32: Mar-Apr 1984

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An Ocean Full Of Viruses

"A decade ago, veterinarian Alvin Smith, now at Oregon State University, found that a virus causing lesions and spontaneous abortions in California sea lions was 'indistinguishable' from one that ravaged pigs nationwide in 1952. New varieties of the culprit -- called a calicivirus -- have since turned up in diverse hosts: whales, cats, snakes and even primates. To reach such a variety of hosts, they either jump from organism to organism, Smith proposes, or they escape from bubbles popping on the ocean surface, waft ashore and enter a food chain. If he is right, the seas may be a bottomless reservoir for viruses -- and our attempts to combat diseases on land may be nullified by legions of new strains waiting to come ashore. In fact, some flu viruses are said to be spread by wild ducks."

(Anonymous; "Are the World's Oceans a Viral Breeding Ground," Science Digest, 92:20, February 1984.)

Comment. We leave it to the reader to fit this piece of the jigsaw to the preceding and following pieces.

From Science Frontiers #32, MAR-APR 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss