April 17, 1996 in Nation/World

Malnourished Can Give Viruses Place To Mutate

Associated Press

Doctors have long known that malnourished people are more vulnerable to viruses, but new research shows malnutrition can actually help those viruses mutate to become dangerous enough to sicken the healthy, too.

Although the studies so far are only in mice, one expert called the finding “revolutionary” and said it may explain some emerging diseases, particularly from developing countries where malnutrition is a threat.

The study means “we are our brother’s keeper because we’re affected by what happens” to the malnourished, said the Agriculture Department’s Orville Levander.

“We have in lots of the world areas where people are malnourished, and in addition to being a social problem, it may turn out these people are vessels for new viruses to emerge,” warned virologist Esteban Domingo of Madrid’s Universidad Autonoma.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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