Viruses that attack the brain

The Zika virus attracts attention because it causes an obvious birth defect.

A question that is not necessarily asked, though, is why Zika attacks the developing brain in the first place. I mean, what does the virus get out of it? What’s the point of infecting a developing brain?

There’s a lot of point to infecting a developing brain. If that virus were to somehow latch onto a newborn in a way that helped the virus, that would be a big deal.

In fact, how we do know that there aren’t already a bunch of Zika-like viruses, spread by mosquitoes or other pests, infecting pregnant women every day, causing permanent changes to the baby’s brains as a result? If the changes weren’t as obvious as microcephaly, would we even notice – or care?

For all we know, every one of us may be living zombies, under the control of tiny Zika-like microbes that infected our mothers before we were born. Okay, “zombie” sounds pretty serious, as though we have no free will at all, but what if the virus caused ever-so-slight changes to our personalities that give a slight edge to the next virus that comes along? Maybe your brain was altered at birth by a virus that makes you dislike long-sleeve shirts, for example, or seek out hot places with standing water?

This whole idea of course is preposterous – the work of a mind who has no knowledge of biology, and no doubt easily dismissed by any real scientist. Maybe I get these ideas from a pre-birth infection of my own, one that slightly jumblesthe thoughts in my head and make me think stupid things. Or maybe you were infected at birth, leaving you annoyed at people like me.