Prevalence and Epidemiological Considerations

 

A Global Pandemic?

After catching the virus described on this website, and after seeing what permanent ill health conditions this virulent pathogen triggered in myself and in the many other people I know who caught it, my thoughts were that this virus might eventually spread exponentially like a global influenza pandemic, and cause a worldwide increase in the conditions this virus can induce (conditions like sudden heart attacks, chronic viral myocarditis, anxiety, depression and anhedonia).

On this page, we examine the possibility that this virus might spread globally in a slow pandemic.

 

The Prevalence of This Virus

The evidence indicates that the virus described on this website was not prevalent in the human population at the time I caught it. This can be deduced from the fact that nearly everyone who has been significantly exposed to this virus (including people of different nationalities) via regular household or workplace contact with an infected person has contracted this virus. Thus the fact that this virus infects more-or-less everyone who is significantly exposed to it demonstrates that very few people already had this virus in their body (since you usually do not catch the same virus twice). This implies that this virus had a very low prevalence in the human population at the time I first caught it, in 2003.

Incidentally, this low prevalence information is a useful fact in terms of identifying this virus: its low prevalence allows us to rule out viruses that are known to be already widespread. For example, just with this low prevalence information, we can rule out Epstein-Barr virus as a possible candidate, as Epstein-Barr virus has a high (95%) prevalence in the adult population.

 

Pandemic Calculations

So the virus described on this website had a low prevalence in the human population at the time I caught it. Obviously I have no precise information, but just as a starting point for calculation, let us assume that only say 1 in 10,000 people in the United States had this virus at the beginning of 2010. Taking the US population as of the order of 300 million, this equates to around 30,000 people infected in the US in 2010. This is just to give us a very approximate initial prevalence figure to work with.

Now, my own observations on my local group of infectees indicate that on average, a person infected with this virus goes on to infect around 3 more people within the first year or so, but after that period, my guess is not many more people get infected from this first person (since the sore throat and sinus/nasal infection clear up to a degree after around a year, and may therefore shed less viral particles).

So as a mathematical simplification, let us say that on average, every person infected with this virus will infect 3 new people within the first year, but will not infect any more people after that. These 3 newly infected people will each go on to each infect 3 further people in the second year. So you get an increase in numbers of infected individuals in the following pattern: year zero 1 person infected, one year later 1 + 3 people infected, two years later 1 + 3 + 9 people infected, three years later 1 + 3 + 9 + 27 people infected, and in general, N years later 1 + 3 + 32 + 33 + 34 + … + 3N people infected. This expression for the number of people infected by the Nth year is the sum of a geometric series, a sum which is given by the formula (3N+1 – 1) / 2.

So as you would expect, this formula indicates an exponential increase in the numbers infected. And clearly, if we start with S people infected at year zero, then N years later there will be a total of S x (3N+1 – 1) / 2 people infected.

So taking the beginning of 2010 as our year zero, when we have assumed there were S = 30,000 people infected in the United States, this means that N years later there will be 30,000 x (3N+1 – 1) / 2 people infected. So let’s see how this exponential increase in the numbers of infected people pans out, using our formula.

In 2010, we are assuming 30,000 people infected with this virus, so:

by 2011 (N = 1), we have 30,000 x (31+1 – 1) / 2 = 120,000 people infected with this virus
by 2012 (N = 2), we have 30,000 x (32+1 – 1) / 2 = 390,000 people infected with this virus
by 2013 (N = 3), we have 30,000 x (33+1 – 1) / 2 = 2.2 million people infected with this virus
by 2014 (N = 4), we have 30,000 x (34+1 – 1) / 2 = 3.6 million people infected with this virus
by 2015 (N = 5), we have 30,000 x (35+1 – 1) / 2 = 11 million people infected with this virus
by 2016 (N = 6), we have 30,000 x (36+1 – 1) / 2 = 33 million people infected with this virus
by 2017 (N = 7), we have 30,000 x (37+1 – 1) / 2 = 98 million people infected with this virus
by 2018 (N = 8), we have 30,000 x (38+1 – 1) / 2 = 295 million people infected with this virus

In fact, as the infection prevalence gets closer to population saturation, the rate of increase will be slower than the figures given above, since with the majority of people infected, it becomes harder to find uninfected individuals to infect (mathematically, the increase then become sigmoidal rather than exponential). Nevertheless, this calculation suggests that by around say 2020, most of the US population will have this virus (and likewise in other countries). This is of course a very approximate calculation, more for illustrative purposes, rather than for providing very precise figures; the spread of this virus may be faster or slower than calculated here; but this calculation does indicate that it might be wise to instigate research into this virus right now, rather than wait until it may have become significantly more prevalent.

 

However, Enteroviruses Don’t Usually Cause Pandemics

One caveat to the above epidemic spread calculation is that generally speaking, enterovirus outbreaks don’t grow forever. They do not undergo long-term exponential growth. Enterovirus outbreaks of coxsackievirus B or echovirus will grow bigger and bigger over the course of a few years, but then instead of continuing to grow, they will start to fade away. Nobody quite knows why this is. Of course there are quite a few serotypes of coxsackievirus B and echovirus, so when one outbreak fades away, another may start.

The virus described on this website is very likely an enterovirus, most probably a strain of coxsackievirus B. My blood test in 2016 showed I have a chronic active infection with coxsackievirus B4, so that could be the identity of this virus. So if this virus is coxsackievirus B, then possibly the above-hypothesized pandemic of slow but continually increasing prevalence may not occur, and instead the prevalence over time will follow the typical cycle of coxsackievirus B occurrence: reaching a peak, and then receding. Let’s hope this is the case. Certainly, since this website was set up in May 2007, there has been no discernible increase in the numbers of visitors to this site, nor an increase in the number of commenters on this site posting that they have these symptoms.

So will there be a slow pandemic, or will this virus decline in prevalence? One factor that suggests there may be a pandemic is the fact that this virus causes a permanent sore throat in around ⅓ of infected people, and permanent nasal inflammation, nasal congestion and mucus production in around ⅔ of infected people. These two chronic respiratory infections/inflammations become quite mild after several years with the virus, but if they are constantly shedding viral particles, this may underpin an exponential transmission and spreading of this virus, creating a slow pandemic which will reach its peak over a time span of a decade or so.

This is significant, because although 90% of people infected with this virus do not manifest severe symptoms, just minor health ailments and some virus-induced permanent changes in psychological makeup (these lead to a reduced quality of life rather than serious health issues), nevertheless, around 10% of people will experience more severe symptoms, such as sudden heart attacks, chronic myocarditis, anxiety, depression, anhedonia and emotional flatness (blunted affect).