Poor Diets May Breed Deadly Viruses

People whose diets lack certain key nutrients, could become a breeding ground for deadly viruses, according to researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The scientists have found that a benign virus can mutate into a virulent form in the heart tissue of mice whose diets lack the element selenium.

Mutations that create more dangerous forms of the influenza virus may contribute to newly virulent outbreaks of viral epidemics ranging from the common cold to AIDS and Ebola and may be, in part, caused by deficiencies of certain nutrients. Deficiencies of selenium allowed the human influenza virus to mutate into more virulent forms in mice.  Similar mutation is likely to occur in people, according to a report published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Once the mutations have occurred, even mice with normal nutrition are more susceptible to the newly virulent strain," explained one of the researchers involved in the study. The researchers stressed that proper nutrition not only influences the health of an individual, it can ultimately influence the health of society in general.

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