Sometimes I feel as though I would be better suited as a koala. Koalas live in trees (lush) in Australia (double lush), they eat leaves (I’m veggie) and they sleep 80% of the day (ok, so I don’t do that, but I sure feel as though I could if given the chance). But what if, as a koala, I still had MS? Can koalas even have MS? Bad balance would surely mean that I’d have a pretty hard time staying in the trees…
I naturally decided to look into the whole animals with MS thing; does it exist? Can animals have MS? Were there in fact real wibbly dinosaurs stumbling around during the Cretaceous period?
Well, it seems unlikely. In a study published in January 2018* that looked at evolution it was decided that humans are the only known species to develop MS spontaneously i.e. without intervention. It’s a fairly academic look at the probable causes of Multiple Sclerosis and not the easiest of reads, but fascinating none the less. As I understand it the study reveals that MS arises from a complex mix of factors relating to a disruption to our natural lifestyle and environment as well as developmental exposures during slow childhood growth. In all there are over 200 possible MS risks so far identified, including genetic susceptibility, diet, exposure to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and a plethora of other environmental factors like low vitamin D levels (of which I shall blog about soon), increased urbanisation, industrialisation and so forth. The study concludes (in the most basic of terms) that MS is an unfortunate by-product of our sophisticated brains and therefore not something that could naturally occur in other animals.
So, there you have it. No wibbly dinosaurs, no koalas falling out of trees. Animals do not get MS. Unless of course you consider those unlucky enough to have components of myelin injected in the name of medical research….
*Why monkeys do not get multiple sclerosis (spontaneously): An evolutionary approach – Riley M Bove