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Dormant Viruses Likely To Reactivate During Space Travel: Study

As per the findings of a study issued in Frontiers in Microbiology recently, herpes appears to actually thrive in space. The researchers, in the paper, mention that an astonishingly higher proportion of astronauts who had been either on a shorter space shuttle assignment or to the International Space Station had reactivated herpes viruses in their saliva and urine samples. On the whole, 14 out of 23 (61%) of astronauts from space station missions and 47 out of 89 (53%) from shuttle flights had at least one sort of herpes within their bodily fluids.

Further, those numbers did not merely denote HSV-1, the one that typically causes oral herpes. It also comprised varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox; cytomegalovirus that is closely linked to herpes; and Epstein-Barr virus. Once any person is infected with a virus such as herpes, it remains within the body for a lifetime. Then, from time to time, it can bring about erupts when it re-stimulates and either becomes infectious again or leads to physical sores. The researchers said extended duration in space appears to be one of the situations that triggers these viruses, at least partly as space damages the immune system.

Opportunely, it was uncommon for the astronauts in this research to have real signs of these ailments. Only 6 had genuine herpes infections in space, but they usually had elevated levels of viral shedding, elucidates Satish K Mehta, the study co-author. This implies that the viruses after going in dormant stay in their systems began to re-stimulate and make their route into fluids where they may be transmitted from one individual to another.

Likewise, in December, research on the spleens of 45 ground-breaking space mice demonstrated that 30 days traveling in the low Earth orbit had rigorously reduced their B lymphocytes—the cells that are vital to assisting the body target and battle infection.