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Going Backward: The Origin Of The Herpes Virus

2 Mins read
  • According to a research paper published on June 10, 2014 - the chimpanzee was the first reservoir of the Herpes virus nearly 6 million years ago.
  • The same research paper suggests that around 1.6 million years ago, the Herpes Viruses started infecting the ancestors of today's humans.
  • It is also stated in the study that HSV 1 has infected humans far earlier than HSV2.

For how long do you think the Herpes Virus is present on our planet? This question might have hit your brain for the very first time, and possibly you may want to do some research over the internet to correct your answer. Well, you require not to do your research – we have already extracted the answer to this question for you. We are about to dig deep in the past to find out when the Herpes virus has appeared for the first time on this earth. 

Finding The Traces Of The Herpes Virus

The estimated infected people from this virus are in billions today. This virus has come very far since its origin to contaminate that large human population. What’s even more interesting is that we are the only primates that get the infection from two distinct strains of Herpes – Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2.

If we go back hundreds of millions of years ago, we will find some glimmers of its evolutionary presence. Scientists have found reliable traces of the HSV at that time. According to a research paper published on June 10, 2014 – the chimpanzee was the first reservoir of the Herpes virus nearly 6 million years ago. However, we don’t know how apes got the herpes infection, nor have this study has stated that. The report was published in the issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. 

The same research paper suggests that around 1.6 million years ago, the Herpes Viruses started infecting the ancestors of today’s humans. It means the virus found its way into Humans for the first time in that era. 

It is also stated in the study that HSV 1 has infected humans far earlier than HSV2. The experts evaluated gene sequences of the herpes virus family to determine the above-said fact. 

The Evolution of HSV2 

As researchers determined that HSV1 existed long before HSV-2, they have conducted another study to determine the approximate presence of HSV2 in humans. If you look at another research paper disclosed in the journal of Virus Evolution, roughly 3 and 1.4 million years ago, the HSV2 virus successfully invaded the human ancestors. 

Scientists from Cambridge and Oxford Brookes universities believe that Paranthropus boisei (A hominin) might have suffered from genital lesions for the first time in response to Herpes Virus2. There is an excellent likelihood that Paranthropus boisei has got the virus by devouring apes, bites, or through open herpes lesions. 

When Homo erectus (extinct species of an archaic human) appeared, they perhaps started devouring Paranthropus boisei. It provided the herpes virus with a vast opportunity to freely thrive in the human ancestors. Since then, the herpes virus day by day became prevalent worldwide, infecting one human to another. 

Why Finding the Origin Sources of Virus Is Vital?

Animal disease reservoirs have proved fatal and costly to humans. From HIV, Ebola, Zika to Herpes, all viruses have initially been found in animals, but the virus makes its way by infecting humans. It is a dark mystery to understand how the virus crosses the border between animals and humans. 

According to Joel O. Wertheim, a scientist at UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center – Finding the virus’s origin, especially animal disease reservoirs, will give us a better perspective in preventing the source of the new viruses. 

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