If I were a virus, I think I’d like to be Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
What is that, you ask? Exactly my point.
Our lungs are the only organ in our body that is exposed to the filth of our environment. Because of this, our lungs have to fight off bacteria, viruses and pollutants, and yet try to function normally to help us breathe.
Asked to name a respiratory virus, our mind immediately jumps to influenza, the big daddy of viruses that affect our lung. Yet, there is a virus that infects more infants throughout the world (in developed and developing countries), that nearly all of us have been infected by at least once by the age of 1 year, that we have no vaccine or treatment for, that our body is unable to develop long lasting immunity to, and that kills more elderly individuals than influenza. That virus is RSV, and yet, is but a blimp in our collective consciousness.
I will admit, I am partial to this virus. I work with it for my PhD. My aim is to study how infections with RSV early on can cause asthma.
Oh right. I forgot to tell you. If you are hospitalised with RSV infection as a kid, you have a higher likelihood of getting asthma as you get older. Influenza on the other hand? Can’t cause asthma.
For more about this, read here.