Tortoise cold sores threaten whole species
It is not only humans who are in need of a cure for the cold sore virus, tortoises would also stand to benefit, and you could argue immeasurably more so, from any such development.
This is because there are a number of species of tortoise (many of them protected) that suffer from high mortality rates chiefly because of a strain of the herpes virus, Testudinid herpes virus 3 (TeHV-3).
There are, in fact, between 200 and 300 known strains of the herpes virus; with humans, tortoises and oysters just some of the various creatures that can suffer from them.
Even domestic animals such as cats and dogs can suffer from the herpes virus, although those who like to pet their furry friends without fear of a cold sore outbreak can rest easy: the feline and canine versions of the virus cannot be transmitted to humans.
Anyway, we digress and should get back to the important business of the tortoise. Apparently the version of the virus they are suffering from is proving to be something of a plague for the affected species, with populations reportedly being decimated.
For young tortoises affected by the virus the prognosis is not good: more than 80% will die, with major organ failure usually occurring within twenty days of the infection.
With the fight to save so many creeps of tortoises (creep is the collective noun, apparently) in full swing, it does seem appropriate to ask whether these scientific efforts might have any potential benefit for human sufferers of cold sores.
Although a good question, it does seem a little unlikely. This is because until now it was thought that there were only six types of herpes virus genome structure and Testudinid herpes virus 3 was found to constitute a seventh.
Scientists are currently working on developing a vaccine for the tortoises. Good luck to them and let’s hope it also proves to be of at least some benefit in helping combat human strains of the cold sore virus.