Experts: Seemingly benign virus on West Coast “causing ecological upheaval the likes of which we’ve never seen” — Very peculiar, different from all known viruses — Mutations could be helping it spread — Something may have recently caused it to go rogue… we’ve never seen anything like this — Why now, what changed to allow outbreak? (VIDEO)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
By Paul Martin
November 18th, 2014

NBC News (emphasis added): Scientists may have fingered the culprit responsible for a mysterious epidemic that has killed millions of starfish… “Their disappearance is an experiment in ecological upheaval the likes of which we’ve never seen,” Ian Hewson, a professor of microbiology at Cornell University, said… Hewson and his colleagues noted that the disease was a relatively common parvovirus found in invertebrates that rose to epidemic levels due to overpopulation, a genetic mutation or other unknown environmental factors.

PBS: Scientists… said it’s a virus that’s different from all other known viruses infecting marine organisms [and] don’t yet know what sparked the seemingly benign virus to transform into the perpetrator of what’s considered the largest marine disease outbreak ever…

National Geographic: The virus [is] quite common. [Hewson said] “It’s been around for 70 years [and] probably present all over the world.”… Why such a pervasive virus is suddenly killing millions of animals is still up for debate… Previous events [were in] one or two species, but the virus is now infecting 20. It’s unusual for a single type of virus… But mutations in a key part of a virus… can help the infection spread to more species, the study authors write…

Hewson: “It is very peculiar to find a virus [infecting] such large numbers of species.”

Reuters: The researchers detected it in… specimens from as early as 1942. They said it may have been present at low levels for years and only recently became a large-scale threat due to some kind of viral mutation, environmental trigger, starfish overpopulation or other factor.

AP: Hewson adds they don’t know yet what triggered the outbreak of the virus… He said it could be related to… a change in the virus, or changes in the environment.

The Rest…HERE

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