An ancient virus is ‘off the charts’ in remote regions of Australia, according to an infectious-disease specialist.
HTLV-1, which can cause leukemia and lymphoma, has infected more than 40 per cent of adults in isolated communities in central Australia, with indigenous people being the worst hit.
Dubbed the cousin of HIV, which is thought to be due to the two viruses being discovered within years of each other, HTLV-1 has already caused natives to die of the lung condition bronchiectasis.
It is unclear exactly why Australia is experiencing such an outbreak, which one expert has called ‘the greatest ever reported in any population’.
Yet, some believe the HTLV-1 virus found down under may have mutated, causing it to be more easily spread between people via breastfeeding, unprotected sex and blood transfusions.
According to the specialist, HTLV-1, which has been found in 1,500-year-old mummies, has received little attention due to fears of HIV and AIDS gripping the public.