Ebola more info are welcome

Giovanni Maga maga at vetbio.unizh.ch
Wed Feb 15 09:17:49 EST 1995

In article <D3z48s.3tC at umassd.edu>, dborden at umassd.edu wrote:

> 	All I want to know is, could this virus have a legitimate chance of 
> taking out ninty percent of the population?  And someone told me that this 
> virus could be man-made, how possible is that?  
> Thanx
> Derek

My informations are probably not updated (since I was not yet able to find
out neither th hot zone nor the coming plague here in Europe). What I got
from some clinical virology books is the following:
Ebola virus and Marburg virus have been classified into a new group,
Filoviruses, due to their differences from any other known virus.
They cause a severe (and often lethal) emorragic fever. 
The first cases were in Germany and Jugo (now ex-Jugo) in 1967, in which 25
people were infected during manipulation of Cercopithecus aethiops (a
monkey) for scientific purposes. Before the virus was isolated other 6
people were infected and at the end 7 people died. The infection was
stopped by isolation of the infected people.
No clear correlation was found between the monkeys and the virus: i.e. the
virus isolated from humans infected the monkeys causing a similar
pathology, but at that time the real vector was not identified. Anyway, new
rules have been now set for the handling of experimental animals and, as
far as I know, such a source of infection should be now excluded.
In the following 10 years there have been recorded 3 cases in South Africa
(1 dead), 2 in Zaire (1 dead), 1 in Zimbabwe.
Then the most impressive cases were in 1976 in Zaire and Sudan: 500 people
with a mortality between 50% (Sudan) and 88% (Zaire). The virus was
morphologically identical to Marburg bur serologically distinct, thus it
was named Ebola.
In 1979 again in Sudan 4 people were infected in a hospital and 4 other
people got the infection from them before the virus was recognized.
What I do not know is: are there more recent cases recorded even in the
western countries? Are there new therapeutical options? Has the reservoir
been identified? 
About the fact that this virus could be man-made, people said the same for
HIV, but I guess it comes from some sensationalised scenarios of
bacteriological war.
Any further information from some more updated scientist is welcome.
G.Maga, PhD
Institute of Veterinary Biochemistry
Unversity of Zuerich-CH
maga at vetbio.unizh.ch 

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