NASA Astronauts Are Fighting Against Herpes -- What Is Behind This Outbreak?

In a surprising twist of events, NASA astronauts are fighting against a powerful opponent -- herpes. The discovery is forcing experts to look for solutions.

NASA Astronauts Are Fighting Against Herpes -- What Is Behind This Outbreak?580
source: RT

Reports indicate that NASA astronauts on the International Space Station have recently had to deal with a somewhat unusual problem for their profession.

A viral outbreak of herpes has reportedly made conditions more challenging for the people aboard the station and has lowered morale across the board as astronauts have been scrambling to get the situation under control.

According to official data, more than half of all astronauts on various shuttle flights have had to deal with herpes or have shown signs of the disease. 

Attempts to explain the situation have pointed towards the more difficult conditions that the human body has to endure in space, including lower gravity and issues with space radiation. All of that, experts say, attributes to a weakened immune system.

And from then on, it is only a matter of a few astronauts carrying the disease. 

Controlling these outbreaks seems to have become more and more difficult for NASA in recent times.

The new reports could also have some implications on other plans the space organization might have lined up at the moment. 

Missions to Mars might have to take extra precautions to prevent this incident from reoccurring, although it is not clear if the organization has already developed procedures to deal with the newfound threat, or if they are still working on that.

This is just another detail in a long list of proofs that conquering space might be more challenging than initially thought.

At the same time, it looks like the spirits of everyone involved in the ongoing research are staying strong, despite the lowered mood on the space station itself.

Satish Mehta, the lead researcher, who found out that 53 percent of astronauts on short-term space shuttle flights show signs of herpes, explained: "During spaceflight, there is a rise in the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to suppress the immune system. In keeping with this, we find that astronauts’ immune cells — particularly those that normally suppress and eliminate viruses — become less effective during spaceflight and sometimes for up to 60 days after." 

Do you think it is right or wrong to speculate about the reasons for this outbreak?