Last Updated on February 13, 2020
A newly released research paper reveals a new virus in Brazil with “More than 90% (68) of Yaravirus predicted genes have never been described before.”
As China grapples with both a new bird flu season and continuing quarantines due to coronavirus, Brazilian scientists have described yet another virus that has never been seen before.
The research paper, which has yet to be peer reviewed and is available on BioRxiv, explains that Yaravirus “Yaravirus expands our knowledge of the diversity of DNA viruses,” and that “The phylogenetic distance between Yaravirus and all other viruses highlights our still preliminary assessment of the genomic diversity of eukaryotic viruses, reinforcing the need for the isolation of new viruses of protists.”
In a statement to LiveScience, the scientists said:
“It was really a big surprise since so far we only know giant viruses infecting amoebas, not small viruses,” said senior author Jônatas Abrahão, an associate professor in the microbiology department of the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. This new virus was only around 80 nanometers in diameter, but all amoeba-infecting viruses that we know of to date are much larger, at more than 200 nanometers
Fortunately, the virus is not currently able to impact humans:
“If we consider all known viruses by now, we can say that most of them do not represent any threat for our health,” Abrahão said. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about them. “Viruses are extremely important in [the] environment,” helping with nutrient recycling or controlling pests, Abrahão said.
On the other side of the globe, China continues to struggle with containing and treating coronavirus.
Just yesterday, the Chinese government admitted to the existence of over 14,000 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.
China is now resorting to robots to deliver food and critical medical supplies as the quarantine continues to lock down transportation of goods and people.