Birds May Spread Ebola Virus, Research Suggestsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Posted on Tue, Dec. 17, 2002
WASHINGTON - Birds may be able to carry and spread the Ebola virus, a deadly African germ that has mystified doctors, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
They said Ebola, which has killed several hundred people in Congo Republic, the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon since it was first identified in 1976, resembled some bird viruses.
David Sanders and colleagues at Indiana's Purdue University found that the outer protein shell of Ebola is similar to those of several viruses carried by birds.
"We knew these viruses were inwardly similar, and now we see their outer similarity as well," Sanders, a biologist, said in a statement.
"While bird transmission of Ebola is by no means certain, the resemblance among all these viruses should encourage health officials to be on guard for it."
Ebola kills an estimated 70 percent of victims, depending on the strain. It is a hemorrhagic fever, causing widespread tissue destruction and bleeding. There is no cure.
Scientists believe it is passed from some animal to people but have not been able to find the animal "reservoir" for the virus. Birds are known reservoirs of other viruses that infect people, including influenza.
Writing in the Journal of Virology, Sanders and colleagues said their findings suggest the bird viruses and Ebola have a common ancestor.
Understanding Ebola is key, not least because it is considered a possible biological warfare or bioterrorism agent.
"Ebola is one of the viruses with which the U.S. agencies in charge of bio-defense are most concerned," Sanders said. "Identification of its natural hosts should be a priority."
-- Anonymous, December 18, 2002