ATLANTA, GA – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta have confirmed that age-old fears about contraction of the childhood illness, “Cooties,” are indeed justified. The virus responsible for childhood Cooties was identified in a high-security isolation laboratory late last week by a team of virologists who have worked tirelessly for over 30 years to crack the mystery disease. What they found was frightening.
“Probably 98% of kids get exposed by the time they hit 4th grade…we’re talking about a near-universal pathogen in our classrooms and on our playgrounds,” said CDC epidemiologist Dr. Johann Shtrigler.
The GNT35 virus, renamed, Cootivirus, is spread between members of opposite genders and is HIGHLY contagious. It is spread by handholding, “smooching,” and, of course, handwritten love notes which are invariably contaminated by the virus. There are reports that even being asked to sit at the same desk with a Cootivirus carrier could result in infection. Once infected, a child can expect embarrassment and severe social ostracism. Although many have speculated about the presence of two viral strains, popularly referred to as “girl cooties” and “boy cooties,” there is no known gender predilection.
Rumors about the availability of a vaccine, aka “cootie shot,” are greatly exaggerated; tangible progress toward preventing or eradicating the disease has been woefully lacking.
“Having the virus in our lab, though…this is a game changer,” said Dr. Shtrigler, who hopes that our new knowledge about Cooties will lead to breakthroughs in treatment and prevention.
Security at the CDC has been tightened as discovery of the Cootivirus fuels speculation about whether it might be used as a weapon for biologic warfare in the future.
“Heaven help us all if it should come to that!” exclaimed Dr. Shtrigler when asked whether Cuba or Iran had independently managed to isolate the virus. “They’re probably 10 or 15 years behind us…so the clock is running on the mission to find a cure.”
For now, the CDC recommends continued practices of cautious contact between members of the opposite gender and strict avoidance of known carriers.
“It’s just common sense,” said Shtrigler, “If you walk into a lunchroom and there’s a table full of girls, you steer clear. If not, you’re just asking to get cooties.”
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