There is almost certainly a virus inside your body right now. Perhaps even a few. Hopefully, they are not SARS-CoV-2. Instead, these are other viruses, known as latent viruses: tiny hitchhikers that live in our bodies.
If you’re healthy, they’re not likely to make a fuss. Perhaps you get a cold sore every now and then as a result of a herpes simplex infection. Or maybe you had chicken pox and now you have shingles because the varicella zoster virus is still in your system.
More than a dozen of these latent viruses infect humans, and scientists have spent a long time trying to figure out why. Some of them account for as much as 80% to 90% of the human population. They knock on our bodies’ doors when we’re young, and our immature immune systems let them in, where they stay for the rest of our lives.
Types of viruses:
These viruses, which include herpes viruses, papilloma viruses, and a few others, are designed to stick around indefinitely, unlike coronaviruses, which make a splashy (and occasionally catastrophic) entrance and then disappear. They are kept in check by the immune system for decades and only occasionally cause health problems or serious illnesses.
How viruses work?
Scientists are learning more about how some of them are hijacking our cells, wearing down our defences, and even leading to life-threatening disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS). Meanwhile, other latent viruses may give certain benefits when combined with diverse parts of the body’s biological landscape.
Stress works as a trigger:
Some scientists seek to know how stress triggers the reemergence of dormant viruses. Others are researching the biological interaction between our immune cells and the viruses that live within us. Others want to figure out how genetics, viruses, and the microbiome, the vast ecology of microbes that dwell inside our organs and digestive systems, interact.