Thursday, December 01, 2005

Source of Ebola Virus Found

Researchers in the Congo have identified three species of fruit bats that are acting as the reservoir for the Ebola virus. Twenty-two percent of the bats tested were found positive for genetic traces of virus. Even more interesting is that this produced no symptoms in the infected bats. This has been driving scientists nuts for a while and for good reason, in 1976 it appeared in 55 villages near the head waters of the Ebola river killing 9 out of every 10 people infected.

When people catch Ebola, it's like wildfire, killing a lot of people really quick but burning itself out before it is able to spread very far. AIDS on the other hand, stays in your system without disabling you allowing you to go about you life infecting people for years and years before it kills you off, that is if it kills you off. People are surving longer new medical treatments.

Back to Ebola, the identification of bats as the natural reservoir offers an excellent explanation of how the virus appeared simultaneously in those 55 villages in 1976 and puts part of that mystery to rest. What does this mean? Just interesting I guess, I've watched too many Discover Channel and National Geographic specials about Ebola growing up.

No comments: