While the world is awash in bizarre news these days, the discovery of a new disease that was first detected in humans 200,000 years ago — an illness that has been dubbed the “GeneBag Disease” — might well be the weirdest discovery of them all. After decades of work, researchers have just been able to name and describe the disease. And the culprit? Great apes.
According to CNN, according to study co-author Karsten Dohle of Mount Sinai, “A chimpanzee was infected and the virus was produced and spread through both animals and people. It spread very rapidly.” The man — who was later identified as Arpad Horvath of Croatia, an adult male between ages 18 and 22 — died of progressive heart disease in 1991. Horvath had no family history of heart disease or previous infections, nor did he smoke or drink. Nevertheless, he contracted the disease from the chimp that he and another man “shared a village” with.
The disease, named after the Swiss researcher Walter Genealogy, has been described as similar to the H1N1 virus that emerged following the 2009 pandemic. It remains unclear as to whether or not the gene that conferred the disease, but the mutation also transferred from chimps to humans, to other chimps, and eventually to humans, who in turn passed it on to humans, helping to confirm the origin of the disease.
The concept of parallel transmission is particularly unique given that chimps are only descended from the earliest human populations, who migrated out of Africa roughly 50,000 years ago.
Nonetheless, the disease is not officially recognized in any medical literature, although some believe that it should be. “There is an established scientific theory that these diseases are concurrent,” the New York Times writes. “Given the spectacular rise in recent years of a new generation of infectious diseases, biologists say, it is only natural to think there must be additional causes besides the one unleashed by the common ancestor of chimps and humans.”
Read the full story at CNN.
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