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Johan Laserna

This cartoon formulates the problem of the first viral infection as a kin to the the problem of the egg and the hen. Which came first? This question is indeed mind boggling, and sets your thinking spinning, uncomfortably. But when it comes to viral infections it may sometimes be less of a spin, because the infection might be of zoonotic origin. This may be obvious to the common STC-reader, but not to me. To this agnostic blog consumer, I can only recommend a reading of Spillover, by David Quammen: http://www.davidquammen.com/index.php/spillover

The Spillover means that the virus one day made a jump from a non human species to humans. To be sustained in this new species, it had to find a way to spread from one individual to another. This is exactly what has been found with HIV-1. The HIV-epidemic grew roughly exponentially from only one or a few infected individuals around 1910 to the more than 55 million estimated to have been infected by 2007. Less than a few thousand HIV-infected individuals was found by 1960, all in central Africa, but it is possible to imagine how the nascent epidemic went unrecognized.

So how did the first person get infected? By a chimpanzee, it seems. And probably in the early 1900. In a South Eastern corner of Cameroon. For details check: http://perspectivesinmedicine.org/content/1/1/a006841.full

The Talmudic end seems, to me, a promising beginning. Ingeneous, as always.

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