Livin' on the MDedge

Sleepless democracy, space herpes, and the F-bomb diet


Herpes! In space!

Viruses can never let bacteria have all the fun. Where there’s an immune system weakened by radiation and microgravity, rest assured, our old friend the herpes virus will be waiting for us.

Satellite in space scibak/gettyimages

Yes, it looks like frequent bathroom trips won’t be the only issue future Dr. McCoys will be treating. According to a study published in Frontiers in Microbiology, four of the eight herpes viruses were discovered in the saliva and urine of more than half of the hundred or so astronauts who had samples analyzed during spaceflight.

The good news is that only six astronauts actually had symptoms emerge, all of which were minor. The bad news is that the strength, frequency, and duration of viral shedding through urine and saliva increased as more time was spent in space. Also, only one of the herpes varieties found has a vaccine. The rest will just have to be treated as symptoms emerge.

We’ll just hope Captain Kirk doesn’t come down with a case of mononucleosis while fighting the Klingons. Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker!

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