In 1997-98, viruses, bacteria and other microbes started mutating out of control. Disease-causing agents have been evolving extremely rapidly, and strangely, since then.
Life scientists reported an "evolutionary crisis," and "accelerated evolutionary processes." As early as 2002, scientists warned of new infectious diseases appearing and old diseases reemerging due to a "complex interaction of social, economic, evolutionary, and ecological factors."
It all goes back to 1997.
What happened in 1997?
Simply put, a number of factors new to the earth's systems converged, and interracted in new, and unprecedented, ways. The interracting 'factors' include escaped pathogens, lab accidents, GM animals and food, factory farming, pollution, chemical contaminations, and more - categorized broadly as "social, economic, evolutionary, and ecological factors."
Several local biological systems around the world reached individual points of "self-organizing criticality," where the rules changed.
What is "Self-organizing Criticality"?
"Self-organizing" means that things can come together in new ways, re-organize on their own, and change the system's established rules.
"Criticality" describes the pivotal 'point' in time and place where factors converge to trigger or allow a system to self-organize.
"Self-organizing Criticality" is like Artificial Intelligence, except it happens naturally in nature. The main idea is that complex change, or "natural complexity," can emerge spontaneously from simple local interactions - not just on a computer or in a laboratory.
...the complexity observed emerged in a robust manner that did not depend on finely-tuned details of the system: variable parameters in the model could be changed widely without affecting the emergence of critical behaviour (hence, self-organized criticality). Thus, the key result of BTW's paper was its discovery of a mechanism by which the emergence of complexity from simple local interactions could be spontaneous — and therefore plausible as a source of natural complexity — rather than something that was only possible in the lab (or lab computer) where it was possible to tune control parameters to precise values. wiki
Where's the evidence?
In 1997-98 several 'biological events' signaled a number of distinct 'points of self-organizing criticality' around the world, mainly unrelated. Here are a few highlights:
1. An H5N1 bird flu lethal to humans appeared in Hong Kong; the virus jumped directly from birds to people without going through a traditional "mixing vessel" like pigs (a jump previously considered impossible).
Instead of reassorting to form hybrids in some sort of transitional species mixing vessel, H5N1 is directly attacking the human species, as the 1918 virus is presumed to have done, via an “adaptation of a smoldering avian progenitor.”
Influenza: An Emerging Disease. CDC
2. A previously human H3N2 flu virus appeared in pigs in the USA, and was found to be a "triple assortment" virus, with 'genes' derived from human, swine and bird flu viruses.
...Viruses of the classical H1N1 lineage were virtually the exclusive cause of swine influenza (in the United States and Canada) from the time of their initial isolation in 1930 through 1998. Antigenic drift variants of these H1N1 viruses were isolated in 1991-1998, but a much more dramatic antigenic shift occurred with the emergence of H3N2 viruses in 1997-1998. In particular, H3N2 viruses with genes derived from human, swine and avian viruses have become a major cause of swine influenza in North America.
...H1N2 viruses that resulted from reassortment between the triple reassortant H3N2 viruses and classical H1N1 swine viruses have been isolated subsequently from pigs in at least six states. Source:
Virus Res. 2002 May 10;85(2):199-210. The emergence of novel swine influenza viruses in North America. PMID: 12034486
3. Superbugs first appeared - antiobiotic resistant bacteria.
At a press conference on May 23, 1997, scientists finally acknowledged the arrival of untreatable bacteria they had feared for years - bacteria that resist antibiotics. Drugs which have kept us safe for 50 years were beginning to fail, they said.
...Today, superbugs look triumphant and this is a serious situation.
Over the last five years, scientists have clearly seen a change in their ability to tackle what should have been easily treatable infections, because bacteria are developing the ability to resist antibiotics.
Cocktail that cures. Hindu
Also see: CBC
4. A previously benign mycobacterium is found to be a significant cause of lung infections.
(Previously benign) Mycobacterium xenopi is a recognized cause of smoldering pulmonary disease in patients with chronic lung disease. ...The repeated isolation of M. xenopi in association with pulmonary lesions suggests significant infection and mandates further workup and therapy.
Mycobacterium xenopi: innocent bystander or emerging pathogen? pubmed
5. Previously benign protozoa/microsporidia are suddenly recognized as significant human pathogens.
"Only recently recognized as human pathogens, ...Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora have been shown to be transmitted through fecally contaminated food and water. The mode of transmission for microsporidia is still unclear. The laboratory diagnosis of these protozoa is difficult. The routine ova and parasites screen does not include screening for them."
Emerging intestinal protozoa: a diagnostic dilemma. PMID: 10177205
Also see: Brasseur P. Waterborne cryptosporidiosis: a major environmental risk. J Eukaryot Microbiol. 1997 Nov-Dec;44(6):67S-68S. PMID: 9508449[/url]
6. A new triple assortment H1N1 swine flu virus infected a human in Wisconsin.
...the 1998 isolate, A/Wisconsin/10/98, (an H1N1 swine flu infecting a human), ...was a reassortant that contained a mixture of swine, human, and avian influenza A virus genes.
...Reassortant viruses with human influenza A H3 and N2 surface glycoproteins and internal protein genes of swine, avian and human influenza A viruses were recently isolated in the US from multiple outbreaks of respiratory disease in pigs.
...The genotype of A/Wisconsin/10/98 provides further evidence for reassortment between avian, human and swine influenza A viruses and demonstrates that such reassortant viruses can infect humans.
1999 Virus Evolution Workshop. Molecular characterization of human influenza A viruses bearing swine-like hemagglutinin genes. Abstract
But it didn't stop there.
7. Protozoa/microsporidia suddenly cause several foodborne outbreaks.
"Recognized as waterborne parasites, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora have now been associated with several foodborne outbreaks.
The oocysts and cysts of these organisms can persist and survive for long periods of time both in water and on foods. As a result, these parasites have emerged as public health risks and have become a concern to the food industry.
Control and prevention of protozoan foodborne disease depends upon our ability to prevent, remove, or kill protozoan contaminants. This review will address the biology, foodborne and waterborne transmission, survival, and methods for detection and control ...."
J Food Prot. 1999 Sep;62(9):1059-70. Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora and their impact on foods: a review. Rose JB, Slifko TR. Department of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg 33701, USA. PMID: 10492484
8. Researchers realize that prion diseases like Mad Cow are probably being spread by bacteria and other microbes.
"Epidemiological observations indicate that a microbial vector is responsible for the transmission of natural prion disease in sheep and goats … ...It is proposed that many microbial proteins may be capable of replicating themselves in mammalian cells eliciting and sustaining thereby degenerative and/or autoimmune reactions subsequent to infections with microorganisms."
Med Hypotheses. 1999 Aug;53(2):91-102. Is the pathogen of prion disease a microbial protein? Fuzi M. Budapest Institute of National Public Health and Medical Officer Service, Hungary. PMID: 10532698
Also see: Dangerous liaisons between a microbe and the prion protein. J Exp Med. 2003 Jul 7;198(1):1-4. Aguzzi A, Hardt WD. PMID: 12847133
8. Asymptomatic cattle are recognized as potential reservoirs for infectious parasites.
"These findings, ...clearly demonstrate the presence of low level, asymptomatic infections in post-weaned and adult cattle in the United States and indicate the potential role of such cattle as reservoirs of infectious parasites."
Vet Parasitol. 2000 Nov 10;93(2):103-12. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Eimeria infections in post-weaned and adult cattle on three Maryland farms. Fayer R, Trout JM, Graczyk TK, Lewis EJ. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Building 1040, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA. PMID: 11035228
9. More antibiotic resistant bacteria appear, including E. coli, Shigella and cholera.
"Unusual findings included two enteroinvasive E. coli strains, one Shigella dysenteriae 2 isolate, and a non-O:1 Vibrio cholerae culture. EPEC bacteria and S. flexneri (but not Salmonella) showed unusually frequent antimicrobial resistance, especially towards beta-lactam antibiotics..."
J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Jun;39(6):2134-9. Etiology of children's diarrhea in Montevideo, Uruguay: associated pathogens and unusual isolates. ...Bacteriology and Virology Department, Institute of Hygiene, School of Medicine, Universidad de la Republica, CP 11600, Montevideo, Uruguay. PMID: 11376047
10. Disease-causing parasites appear on fruits and vegetables, unrelated to bad hygeine or outbreaks.
"This is the first time that parasites have been detected on vegetables and fruit obtained in a highly developed. wealthy country, without there being an outbreak situation. These findings may have important implications for global food safety."
J Food Prot. 2001 Nov;64(11):1793-8. Occurrence of parasites on fruits and vegetables in Norway. Robertson LJ, Gjerde B. Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo. PMID: 11726161
11. Disease-causing parasites spread by irrigation water contaminate crops.
"The presence of human pathogenic parasites in irrigation waters used in the production of crops traditionally consumed raw suggests that there may be a risk of infection to consumers who come in contact with or eat these products."
J Food Prot. 2002 Feb;65(2):378-82. Detection of protozoan parasites and microsporidia in irrigation waters used for crop production. Thurston-Enriquez JA, Watt P, Dowd SE, Enriquez R, Pepper IL, Gerba CP. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Nebraska, Lincoln 68583-0934, USA. PMID: 11848571
12. Waterborne diseases change dramatically - from the way they're transmitted, to their incidence and prevalence. In addition, new and reemerging infectious diseases are seen to be "occurring through a complex interaction of social, economic, evolutionary, and ecological factors."
"As the epidemiology of waterborne diseases is changing, there is a growing global public health concern about new and reemerging infectious diseases that are occurring through a complex interaction of social, economic, evolutionary, and ecological factors."
Crit Rev Microbiol. 2002;28(1):1-26. Emerging waterborne infections: contributing factors, agents, and detection tools. Theron J, Cloete TE. Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa. PMID: 12003038
13. Water treatment and disinfecting protocols stop working; standard tests do not reveal new strains and pathogens.
"The results confirm the resistance of Clostridium perfringens spores, enteroviruses and protozoa to chlorination and demonstrate the relative persistence of these organisms in the effluents even during the ultraviolet light treatment. The yields also emphasise the influence of the analytical method for the determination of protozoan parasites.
New Microbiol. 2002 Oct;25(4):413-20. Fate of bacterial indicators, viruses and protozoan parasites in a wastewater multi-component treatment system. Bonadonna L, Briancesco R, Cataldo C, Divizia M, Donia D, Pana A. Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Laboratorio di Igiene Ambientale, Roma, Italy. PMID: 12437220
"The transmission of Cryptosporidium and Giardia through treated water supplies that meet water quality standards demonstrates that water treatment technologies have become inadequate, and that a negative coliform no longer guarantees that water is free from all pathogens
, especially from protozoan agents. Substantial concern persists that low levels of pathogen occurrence may be responsible for the endemic transmission of enteric disease. In addition to Giardia and Cryptosporidium, some species of genera Cyclospora, Isospora, and of family Microsporidia are emerging as opportunistic pathogens and may have waterborne routes of transmission. More than 15 different groups of viruses, encompassing more than 140 distinct types can be found in the human gut. Some cause illness unrelated with the gut epithelium, such as Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and Hepatitis E virus (HEV). The most striking concern is that enteric viruses such as caliciviruses and some protozoan agents, such as Cryptosporidium, are the best candidates to reach the highest levels of endemic transmission, because they are ubiquitous in water intended for drinking, being highly resistant to relevant environmental factors, including chemical disinfecting procedures."
Crit Rev Microbiol. 2002;28(4):371-409. Microbial agents associated with waterborne diseases. Leclerc H, Schwartzbrod L, Dei-Cas E. Faculte de Medecine de Lille, and Institut Pasteur de Lille, France. PMID: 12546197
14. Flies are able to express prion proteins, and spread prion diseases along with other ectoparasites.
Animal prion infections, such as scrapie (sheep) and "mad cow disease" (cattle), have shown a pattern of horizontal transmission in farm conditions and several ectoparasites have been shown to harbor prion rods in laboratory experiments. Fly larvae and mites were exposed to brain-infected material and were readily able to transmit scrapie to hamsters. New lines of evidence have confirmed that adult flies are also able to express prion proteins. Several cell types found on the human skin, including keratinocytes, fibroblasts and lymphocytes, are susceptible to the abnormal infective isoform of the prion protein, which transforms the skin to produce a potential target for prion infection.
Int J Dermatol. 2003 Jun;42(6):425-9. Could ectoparasites act as vectors for prion diseases? Lupi O. Center for Vaccine Development, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX, USA. PMID: 12786866
By 2003, the local points of self-organizing criticality seemed to be converging globally. It was clear that a global point of self-organizing criticality had been, or was about to be reached.
By 2005, Super Bugs were an everyday reality - and some had evolved to feed on antibiotics. Everything from protozoa to bacteria and viruses had developed resistance to standard treatment and disinfecting protocols, and many had acquired all-new epidemiologies.
Doctors know C. difficile flourish after patients take certain antibiotics. Now it seems any antibiotic can bring on the disease.
..."Something happened 18 to 24 months ago, where the use of particular antibiotics didn't seem to matter anymore," said Dr. Mark Miller, chief of infectious diseases at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital. www.cbc.ca...
Much has happened biologically speaking since scientists sounded their first warnings in the 1970's, and again, rang the alarm bells in 1997.
MRSA flesh-eating disease is now community-acquired, and can be transmitted sexually. Multi-resistant tuberculosis is virtually pandemic. Diseases like salmonella and e.coli, once only able to infect animals, now are able to infect plants.
Unheard of biological events have been happening: animal diseases infecting plants and vice versa; different microbial species exchanging genes; bacteria dangerous to humans have begun evolving in insects. Now, genes are being exchanged across Super Kingdom barriers. The list goes on.
In recent years, the number of outbreaks from (E. coli) contaminated produce has far surpassed those from beef and poultry and has drawn nearly even with those linked to seafood, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group. While there are more food-borne outbreaks related to seafood, far more people get sick from produce outbreaks, the group found. NYT
New E. coli study could shed light on movement of GM bacteria
A recent study published in the January 2002 edition of Applied and Environmental Microbiology documents the transmission of a potentially pathogenic strain of E. coli from manure-contaminated soil and water into the roots and leaves of lettuce plants. ...E. Ann Clark, co-author of this article, point out that the Rutgers study may shed light on the pathways of movement of genetically engineered bacteria amongst soil, plants and insects.
After growing lettuce in composted manure, each gram of which they had inoculated at a rate of 100 million E. coli 0157:H7 organisms, the Rutgers research team documented a buildup of the pathogenic bacterium within plant leaves. Because the accumulation was within the leaves, not on them, simply washing the leaves in water would not cleanse or remove them.
"The vast majority of manure used in this country is supplied to chemical (non-organic) farms," says Brian Leahy, president of the California Certified Organic Farmers. Yet, the USDA does not regulate the use of manure on chemical farms, whereas it does in organic agriculture. cropchoice
"Scientists have evidence that bacteria dangerous to humans have begun evolving in insects
, for reasons that are not clear.
The October edition of Nature Reviews: Microbiology reports that invertebrates such as worms and insects may have begun enabling a rapid evolution for bacteria normally not harmful to humans. Not only are insects capable of delivering disease through bites and stings, they now may be the breeding ground for strains of infectious bacteria never before seen in humans."
Dangerous Bacteria Evolving in Insects. LINK
There are six kingdoms of living things, divided into two major groups or super-kingdoms called Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes. The Six Kingdoms of Life
Not long ago, diseases could not cross species barriers, never mind kingdom barriers.
Now, they're crossing super-kingdom barriers - via a "true" actin isoform that is likely prion-related.
Two Faculty Members have selected for evaluation a paper identifying a surprising case of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of eukaryotic cytoskeletal proteins to a prokaryotic cyanobacterium.
Mohan Balasubramanian (National University of Singapore, Singapore), a Faculty of 1000 Biology Member for Cell Biology, remarks: "This is the first report of a true actin (i.e. not MreB or ParM related) in a bacterium".
Debashish Bhattacharya (University of Iowa, USA), a Genomics & Genetics Faculty Member, also commented on the paper, saying: "The fact that this rare direction of transfer was detected in a cultivated sample and in limited analyses of natural extracts suggests that eukaryote to prokaryote HGT may occur more frequently in nature than previously thought
." Are eukaryotic genes spreading in prokaryotic populations? f1000biology
None of this should be possible; it never was before.
So the situation is clear. Something happened. Now, the most fundamental rules of biology have changed, and our bio-world is spinning out of control.
H1N1 swine flu is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
We do not need bio-terrorists to create and release super-plagues - our world can do it all on its own, using the pollution and contaminants we already created and released for profit and power.
There is much more information, maybe better references, more to be said, and links to be created - but I hit the wall and just wanted to get this posted.
Any contributions you might have are most welcome.