Other DNA Virus Families of Importance

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  • 0:06 The Importance of…
  • 0:31 Polyomaviridae and…
  • 3:47 Geminiviridae Virus Family
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will tell you about other viruses that have a DNA genome that are of health and commercial importance to humans. Find out a bit more about them as we explore arboviruses, as well as the Polyomaviridae, Asfarviridae, and Geminiviridae virus families.

The Importance of Certain DNA Viruses

We're going to take a trip around the world in this lesson, free of charge. As we land at every spot, we'll learn about various DNA viruses that affect people and animals worldwide. We'll take a look at how some of them are a danger to humans, to the economic health of a nation or pose a zoonotic risk to the population.

Polyomaviridae and Asfarviridae Families

Before we even take off to our first destination, we take a look at the map at the airport and notice that one type of virus family seems to take up residence all over the world. These viruses are collectively called the Polyomaviridae family. This is a family of viruses that includes the JC virus and SV40.

JC is like the little kid of the family on the airplane ride. JC is so loud that everyone hears him on the plane. His loud volume is so infectious, that as a consequence, the majority of people around the world get the JC virus. The JC virus, thankfully, doesn't do much damage, unless the person is immunosuppressed, in which case, fatal damage to the brain may occur.

As I mentioned before, this virus family also contains a virus called SV40 that affects monkeys and may potentially cause cancer in humans, although this latter point is still very controversial. In addition, a long time ago, some people inadvertently got a dose of this virus when they received a contaminated polio vaccine, which brings me to my next point. Do not get the Polyomaviridae virus family confused with the polio virus, which is actually part of the RNA containing Picornaviridae virus family.

In any case, once we get on the plane and the stewardesses calm JC down, we fly off to Africa to meet with the local Asfarviridae family. This is a virus that includes the African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV), which is endemic to sub-Saharan African pigs. This virus is extremely important and has a colorful past. First, ASFV is the only known DNA virus that transmits its genome by using little bugs, like ticks. Therefore, it is known as an arbovirus, or a virus that transmits its genome through arthropod vectors.

This virus is not only limited to sub-Saharan Africa; it has been spreading around the world. In fact, our next stop on our trip around the world is to Cuba, where we learn that this virus is of extreme economic importance, as it can kill many pigs quickly, even without the onset of any clinical signs. This can cause devastating economic loss to swine farmers and even an entire nation.

In fact, some believe that the CIA used this virus to try to economically destabilize the entire nation of Cuba. There is no solid evidence the CIA was involved, but at least half a million pigs, a vital food supply for a tiny nation, had to be slaughtered due to an outbreak of the virus.

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