Thursday, April 30, 2009

The genetics of death: H1N1

The W.H.O. (World Health Organization) escalated the ongoing pandemic to a LEVEL 5 alert status, just yesterday (in an attempt at containment).

"Influenza A virus subtype H1N1", also known as "A(H1N1)", or simply "H1N1" - is a subtype of influenza virus A, and the most common cause of influenza in humans.

Discussion: In each time and each place, mankind has always sought to avoid disease. Historically, we've tried to limit the diffusion of diseases.

Surely, I am not alone to have taken notice of the fact that ALL of the deaths attributed to H1N1 (to date) have occurred in persons of Hispano American origin.

Let us also take note of the ethnological fact, that a very large percentage of the human populations alive today (from the Hispano American region)... is genetically speaking, descended from the aboriginal peoples who lived in isolation (from the balance of planetary populations) for at least 12,000 years, and possibly longer...

Genetic studies conducted by the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY have produced "genographic" mappings which describe the genetic-geographic origins of the peoples of the world (based upon DNA samples obtained from humans, all over the planet). Their statistical results connect (and disconnect) the "families" of the Planet, and span a sea of time...

It is clear, that all of Mankind has ties to the most ancient of the "Out of Africa" genealogies. Since anthropological times, the descendants of those "men" have bound all humans alive today to a common ancestry. But that same expanse of time served to produce the divergences of race, and the geographic isolation of entire populations. Both have fostered the evolution of immunities (and vulnerability) to specific types of disease.

Could it not be, that the H1N1 victims (Mexican descendants of ancient American peoples), have an inherent genetic predisposition (vulnerability) that other genetic groups may not share (carry)?

Are the "purest" aboriginal, Hispano Americans alive today, not part of a remnant population - the result of the varied geographic isolations of time? And does not such an inheritance, make them who they are today (from an immunology perspective)? And perhaps, particularly vulnerable?

Time will tell, and history is a wondrous teacher.

As the first Europeans arrived in meso-America (during the XV, XVI, XVII, and XVIII centuries), they also introduced an entire array of communicable diseases. Some of those ailments ultimately ravaged the indigenous aboriginal populations. Indeed, entire cultures were virtually obliterated.

Is it not true that disease became the most efficacious "Conquistador"?

The practices that were used to avoid disease (those 500 years ago), were derived from observation. And the only control measures were to stand clear from the contagious places, and to isolate sick persons (by means of the simplest of quarantines). There was merely implied epidemiologic surveillance.

The supply of safe drinking water, sewage disposal, and sanitary control of food were not habitual practices, as they are today. Food residuals - waste collection were not opportune. Those were the practices of ignorance. They favored the existence and proliferation of many parallel vectors that serviced to spread the tides of disease (including insect-borne ailments and through various animals).

Domestic waste did not simply disappear in a timely fashion. Society allowed an accumulation of excreta and waste near to dwellings. In some places, there were measures related to water supply, excreta disposal, handling of dead bodies, and environmental sanitation - but there was no knowledge of the risks, as we know them today.

It was believed that (through) ceremonials, sacrifice, processions, and prayers to various gods - prevalent diseases could be avoided.

It is certainly true that hygiene (or lack of same) is still a contributor to endemic illness across the Hispano American region, but that the larger more logical vulnerability may simply be tied to the acquired genetics - that is to say, the mere genealogical make-up of the victims. Logically, all descended from native peoples who were present 500 years ago (and perhaps as much as 20,000 years ago).

A genetic predisposition (vulnerability) to specific, albeit evolving flu strains, may well explain why the deaths are occurring inside of selected populations, but not in others...

Me Thinks


Anonymous said...

Simply put, don't eat those pork chops.....just kidding.

As far as this whole thing is concerned about the flu, I personally think that there is way to much media hype. 149 people died in Mexico so far. The pandemic of 1918 more than 50 million died. So what's 149 so far, a drop in the bucket. The most susceptible to death are the old and the very young. That's always the case and that always happens no matter what. Besides, what are we going to do if it does reach a pandemic stage? Not really to much except experience whatever's happening around us.

From what I've heard, Mexico City is a dump. The Mexican population is somewhere around 20 million. The Mexican government didn't do much to contain this either, so I feel that it will continue to spread, but so what else is new? Flu typically does spread.

I say if I'm going to get it I'd rather get it early on so if it does morph, I've already had it, and will not be susceptible to getting the next strains. The people in Mexico that have already had it and have gotten better are lucky and can now watch the whole world sweat it out now. Me, I'll wait and watch...can't really do much else anyway. Maybe I'll have a pork taco or two.


QMANN said...

Incorrect "death" data. As of 04-May-2009, Mexico has reported 590 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 25 deaths. Source: W.H.O.

Melykin said...

In the last week or so a lot of aboriginal people in northern Manitoba have become very ill with H1N1.

Most everyone is saying it is because they were less healthy to start with, but I think genetics is a much more probably explanation.

Because the aboriginal people are not decended from people who farmed and kept pigs and chickens they may not have evolved as much resistance to flu as most Europeans and Asians.

No one seems to talking about the genetic aspect. Maybe it is not politically correct.

QMANN said...

Even the CDC and W.H.O. are as prone to public announcements that are VERY "PC" (politically correct). That stance seems to favor simple-mindedness, as it over-shadows Scientific (medical / genetic) candor. I am PLEASED that you took note of that think-gap. I have yet to find a single Press-Release that addresses this topic from a genetic (inheritance) perspective.

Clearly, the human immune system evolves along with reproduction and the movements of mankind through time and space. The subject is more than topical - in-as-much-as the genetics of "immunity" protect (or render a person vulnerable) to many diseases. Thanks for your comment. Me Thinks