NASA is currently working with the University of Florida to investigate why at least four strains of the herpes virus (including the zoster variation) reactivate due to space travel.
David Bloom, research lead of the project entitled ‘Effect of spaceflight on herpesvirus genome stability and diversity’ issued a statement outlining the motives of the project:
‘The fact that space flight is known to increase the frequency and duration of Herpesvirus reactivation sets up a biological environment for these reactivating and replicating viruses to mutate.
Recently it has been shown that environmental factors such as diet and medications can alter the mutation rate and pathogenesis of human viruses, so it seems likely that effects of microgravity, radiation, and other physiological aspects of space flight may have a profound effect on the evolution of mutations and adaptations of the Herpesviruses during space flight’.
To read more about the methodology to be employed and the study’s objectives, please click here.