Livin' on the MDedge

Previously unknown viral families hide in the darnedest places


You and me and baby makes 10,003

If you were a virus hunter, looking for your next big virus discovery, where would you go? The wholesale seafood market in Wuhan? A gathering of unmasked anti-vaxxers in the heartland of America? The frozen snot fields of northwest Siberia?

Different race babies laying in a line in diapers. Comstock/Thinkstock

How about babies? Well, it’s too late now, because that’s what Dennis Sandris Nielsen, PhD, of the University of Copenhagen, and his associates did, and they hit the mother lode. Actually, it was more like the infant load, if we’re being honest here.

“We found an exceptional number of unknown viruses in the faeces of these babies,” Dr. Nielsen said in a written statement from the university. (The study was published in Nature Microbiology, so we get the English spelling of feces.)

The investigators mapped the gut “viromes” of 647 healthy Danish 1-year-old children over the course of 5 years and found 10,000 species of viruses distributed across 248 different viral families, of which only 16 were already known. Incredible stuff, but then things took a turn for the cute. “The researchers named the remaining 232 unknown viral families after the children whose diapers made the study possible. As a result, new viral families include names like Sylvesterviridae, Rigmorviridae and Tristanviridae,” the university said.

About 90% of the viruses found in the feces are bacterial viruses, aka bacteriophages, which have bacteria as their hosts and don’t attack the children’s cells, so they don’t cause disease. The other 10%, however, are eukaryotic: They use human cells as hosts, so they can be either friend or foe. “It is thought-provoking that all children run around with 10-20 of these virus types that infect human cells. So, there is a constant viral infection taking place, which apparently doesn’t make them sick,” Dr. Nielsen said.

Doesn’t make them sick? Riiiight. The thought that this gives rise to now? People love babies. Everyone wants to pick up the baby. Now we know why. Because the viruses want us to! Well, those cute little faces aren’t fooling us anymore. No more babies for us. Everyone should stay away from babies and their evil little eukaryotic viruses. STOP THE BABIES!

[Editor’s note: After a short timeout, we explained to the staff that the human species actually needs babies for its survival. They calmed down, picked up their crayons, and quietly went back to work.]

Fooled them. Stop the babies!

At least someone out there appreciates hospital food

Life in Alaska is not for the meek. It’s dark half the year. Summer is 3 weeks in July. And somehow, there’s a moose in line ahead of you at the doctor’s office. To make matters worse, it’s arguing about insurance. “What do you mean, you’ve heard the Moo Cross Moo Shield joke before?”

Jean Beaufort/

One might expect that Providence Alaska Health Park, located near downtown Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska by a massive margin, might be safe from ungulate invasion. Nope. In recent days, a young moose has taken to hanging around Providence campus, and it just could not find anything to eat. Remember, it may be early April, but this is Alaska. It’s still winter there. The ground’s still covered in snow.

Eventually, the gears in our young moose friend’s mind turned and it settled on a course of action: “Hey, those are some nice-looking plants behind that door over there. …” And that’s how Providence Alaska Health ended up with a moose munching on decorative potted plants in the hospital lobby.

Funnily enough, the moose didn’t even make a big scene. It just walked through the automatic doors and started chowing down. Security only found out because a tenant called them. Naturally though, once security made the announcement that a massive wild animal had been spotted in the building, the lobby was evacuated. … What do you mean, half the hospital came around to see it? Apparently, even though Alaskans have to fight moose herds on their daily commute, a lot of people wanted to see our moose friend do its thing.

“That’s crazy,” a woman in scrubs said in a video as she snapped a photo with her phone.

“This is the best. Like, what’s the code for this?” asked another bystander.

Despite security’s best efforts to shoo the moose out with barricades and offers of tasty branches, our furry friend left of its own volition, presumably irritated that his breakfast had become a spectator sport. But it didn’t go far. It hung around the front drive for a while, then went around the back of the building for a nap. What has four hooves and still doesn’t give a crap? Bob Moose-o! How you doing?


Recommended Reading

The long-range thrombolysis forecast calls for tiny ultrasonic tornadoes
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Pound of flesh buys less prison time
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Medicare ‘offers’ cancer patient a choice: Less life or more debt
MDedge Emergency Medicine
A purple warrior rises in the battle against diabetes
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Transplant surgeon to 30,000 marathoners: Give me that liver
MDedge Emergency Medicine
We have seen the future of healthy muffins, and its name is Roselle
MDedge Emergency Medicine
The human-looking robot therapist will coach your well-being now
MDedge Emergency Medicine
The air up there: Oxygen could be a bit overrated
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Sweaty treatment for social anxiety could pass the sniff test
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Lack of food for thought: Starve a bacterium, feed an infection
MDedge Emergency Medicine