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Here's an article from the Russian newspaper Pravda. Although the translation is rather crude and I don't agree with everything in the article, it does help one understand the insanity of manipulating viruses without understanding how they work and what are the consequences of such manipulation.

Viruses Endanger Humanity

Numerous legions of the tiniest deadly biorobots are waging an undeclared war on humanity. Cute little rabbits jeopardized the ecology of Australia. They were breeding very fast and eating grass like locust - the continent was in danger of becoming a desert. Biologists found a solution to this situation. They infected millions of gnats with a myxomatosis virus - known as "rabbit death." Infected insects were released into fields and the outcome was quick: all rabbits were killed in ten days. This is one of the few examples when a virus do humans a favor. As for the rest, viruses are considered to be our sworn enemies.

A virus is a disposable injector. As soon as a virus touches a living cell, it injects its own DNA into it. The subtle DNA program changes the work of the cell and makes it kill the rest of the body, producing numerous virus-infected cells. Even encyclopedias shamefully acknowledge that modern science does not understand the nature of viruses - scientists do not know anything about their evolution. People do not even know if a virus is a creature or a substance. Merciless killers are absolutely alien to everything terrestrial. Virologists believe viruses came to planet Earth somewhere from distant space.

Scientists have discovered more than 1,500 viruses thus far. No one knows the total number of them living on our planet. New viruses appear on a frequent basis, posing even greater dangers to people.

1967. A Soviet laboratory assistant named Klaus V. was hospitalized in Lazo. The man died a day later. As it turned out, shortly before his death, Klaus V. was bitten by a chimpanzee infected with a previously-unknown virus. Other doctors were working with those monkeys too. All were infected with this new virus, which was called Lazo virus.

1976. A similar misfortune terrorized Sudan and Zaire. The virus was called Ebola v in the name of the river not far from the town of Yambuku in Zaire. The virus killed over 300 people in several days, having totally consumed them.

1987. Dutch boy Peter Kardinal descended in the Kitum cave (on the border between Kenya and Uganda). The local population had heard many terrifying stories about the cave. The boy died at a local hospital several days later. A French man died of horrible internal hemorrhage after visiting the cave as well. The Dutch and the French men were killed by the Ebola virus. Scientists assumed human ancestors were living in Kitum cave millions of years ago. Apparently, there was something living at the depth of the cave that produced the new deadly viruses. One may say that AIDS has come into this world from such places as well.

Everything that is related to viruses is mysterious. Outbreaks of Ebola fever occur every ten years. The virus was again active in 1995 in Zaire, killing over 100 people. The epidemic stopped as suddenly as it started for inexplicable reasons - nobody knows why this happens. Other viral epidemics possess an explicit cyclic character.

American scientists Orgel and Kreek put forward an original hypothesis, which claimed that the life on Earth was not incidental - it came from space as a result of a universal experiment. The theory became very popular in the world, although it was rejected in Russia as one would admit to the existence of a superior force. Nowadays, the theory is becoming more and more popular in the scientific world. In addition to the theory, Russian researcher M. Daryanenko suggested his own version, which also explained the nature of viruses. The scientist believes that viruses appeared on Earth together with organic beings. Viruses were meant to be active during certain periods of time to inject DNA programs in living beings to correct the evolution process. Something changed millions of years ago: viruses started to become killers. Probably, viruses decided that the humanity was developing in a wrong way, so people had to be destroyed for a new experiment.

American scientists made another interesting supposition. They said that the nature of earth had the immune system of its own. That is why there is nothing surprising about the coincidence when the environmental pollution is accompanied with outbreaks of new deadly viruses. The scientist believes that the planet is defending itself against the aggressive homo sapiens.

These hypotheses seem to be incredible, but they are just attempts to unravel the mystery of viruses. Someone may die of a virus very quickly, others can live with them for years. Why do viral epidemics happen periodically? Where do new viruses come from and how do they appear?

Bacteriophage viruses destroy bacteria. A virus's activity is something like a spacecraft which lands on a planet to take soil samples. This microscopic killer cannot be considered as a living being in the full sense of the word. It does not consume and assimilate food. Scientists believe viruses have a simple mechanism: the drive to find and kill bacteria. Who programmed the viruses for that? When did it happen and how? Specialists prefer not to think about such questions, although they are questions of life and death for the entire humanity.

The issue of new viruses has accelerated during recent years. Human civilization has balanced on the edge of catastrophe many times. Luckily, it has been possible to avoid a global viral epidemic to date. However, who knows what is going to happen next?

Humans try to use everything they can to struggle against viruses - antibiotics, vaccines and even magic. People sometimes prevail in this struggle. A timely injection saves people from such a viral disease as rabies. Witch-doctors manage to cast spell on warts and papillomas that also have the viral nature. However, there are still many of incurable diseases.

The "flesh-eating virus" is becoming more and more active. The symptoms are very similar to those of gangrene: the illness develops very fast, within 24 hours. Microscopic organisms "eat" the tissue and only the immediate amputation of deteriorated tissue can save a patient. Five people died of the virus in New York in 1997. The virus killed 20 people in Holland the same year. Forty incidents of this infection were registered in Germany. Doctors discovered that the disease was caused with well-known streptococcus A, although they could not explain why the organism started "eating" people.

The mad cow disease is another mystery of present time. It all started with an epidemic among the English cattle. The inexplicable illness killed 140,000 cows within a very short time. Later it became known that dead animals had been fed with sheep brains added to the mixed fodder. When they stopped feeding cows like that, the epidemic stopped. However, the epidemic burst out again in France, albeit among children. The investigation showed that children had been treated with the growth hormone, extracted from mad cows' hypophysis. All incidents of the disease were fatal - the virus diluted victims' brains.

Scientists failed to identify a certain pathogenic organism. Some of them believed that it was something new: not a virus with the killer DNA, but DNA fragments that penetrated into the human body with food. Mysterious epidemics may exterminate whole settlements and doctors are incapable of identifying the reason of numerous deaths.

It seems that the humanity is gradually losing the war with the microworld. AIDS is still considered to be the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, and there has not been any remedy found. During the last 14 years, American, British, Japanese scientists have spent more than a billion dollars searching for an anti-AIDS vaccine research. For the time being, the effect is zero. National coordinator for the problem of AIDS in Russia, Mikhail Narkevich, came to conclusion in the beginning of the 1990s that an efficient medicine against the HIV infection will not be found for at least ten or fifteen years. Publications about the invention of various medicines against the horrible virus appear from time to time. However, nothing has been tested with positive results. Millions of people might die of AIDS during the period of the forecast. One should bear in mind that new viruses may appear any time too.

Humanity has no way out: people must unravel the mystery of viruses at all costs, for it will have to give way to microscopic killers otherwise.

I. Tsareva