Tags: Ebola | virus | mutate | outbreak | strains | airborne

Chances Ebola Will Go Airborne Increase as Outbreak Rages On: Experts

Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014 12:38 PM


The Ebola virus circulating in West Africa is already different from previous strains.
While scientists don’t fully understand what the changes mean, some are concerned that alterations in the virus that occur as that pathogen continues to evolve could pose new dangers.
Researchers have identified more than 300 new viral mutations in the latest strain of Ebola, according to research published in the journal Science last month. They are rushing to investigate if this strain of the disease produces higher virus levels -- which could increase its infectiousness.
So far, there is no scientific data to indicate that. The risk, though, is that the longer the epidemic continues, the greater the chance that the virus could change in a way that makes it more transmissible between humans, making it harder to stop, said Charles Chiu, an infectious disease physician who studies Ebola at the University of California at San Francisco.
 “If the outbreak continues for a prolonged period of time or it becomes endemic, it may mutate into a form that is more virulent,” said Chiu. “It is really hard to predict.”
Viruses such as Ebola, whose genomes are made from ribonucleic acid, are constantly mutating. Some mutations are good for the virus and some are bad for the virus, said Ian Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland. It’s the ones that are good for the virus that tend to stick around.
Mutation Curveball
“Viruses don’t think. They make mutations that are good for them,” he said. “If it helps the virus spread or replicate faster it will be around more.”
“It is a numbers game, the more cases you have the more likely there are going to be mutations that could change the virus” in a significant way, said David Sanders, a professor of biological sciences at Purdue University who studies Ebola. “The more it persists, the more likely we are going to be thrown a curve.”
So far, the patterns of transmission are consistent with the previous Ebola epidemic, Chiu and several other researchers said.
Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as vomit or diarrhea. Patients are most infectious at the late stages of the disease when large quantities of the virus are present inside the body. This explains why health-care workers and family members tending to gravely ill patients are particularly at risk of getting infected.
Caseload Rises
The current outbreak is centered in the west African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. More than 8,900 people have been infected with the virus in the three countries, with more than 4,400 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

 
1Like our page
2Share
Health-News
The Ebola virus circulating in West Africa is already different from previous strains. While scientists don't fully understand what the changes mean, some are concerned that alterations in the virus that occur as that pathogen continues to evolve could pose new dangers....
Ebola, virus, mutate, outbreak, strains, airborne
444
2014-38-15
Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014 12:38 PM
Newsmax Inc.
 

The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read Newsmax Terms and Conditions of Service.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved