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