My Candidate for the Ebola Reservoir Organism (was Re: Chimpanzee Ebola outbreak)

Doug Yanega dyanega at
Fri May 26 13:40:07 EST 1995

In article <00990CC9.364DAE7A at>, 5lr6schumach at

> The newest issue of science (19 May 1995, Vol 268, Pgs974-975) has a
short article on an outbreak of ebola in chimpanzees that occurred last
November. This is the one on the Ivory Coast's tai Forest. Also, this is
the one where the swiss researcher contracted ebola from the chimp while
doing the autopsy (she did recover). They say that this strain is
different than any other one. The complete article will be in this weeks
issue of The Lancet. They make the interesting observation and suggestion
that since t
> his outbreak occurred after the rainy season that it may be insect born.
Also, they have found cases of ebola in poachers and villagers who kill
and eat monkeys. the outbreak killed 12 out of 40 chimps. Interesting
article in a scientifically sound journal...........

I'm staggered to see how, for something so prominent as Ebola, the "left
hand doesn't know what the right is doing" - all the evidence suggests
that the reservoir of the virus is something the chimpanzees eat,
something people who eat monkeys eat, and (logically) is probably a
mammal, most likely a primate. There have, however, been several
recently-published studies on the diet of wild chimps, and their main prey
are *Red Colobus monkeys*. How come with all the high-profile activity, no
one has ever bothered to LOOK at the literature on chimp behavior, put two
and two together, and suggested that the Red Colobus monkey might be the
reservoir species??!! No, instead we get some half-baked suggestion that
it "might be insect-borne"...mark my words, it'll take them several years
and several million dollars to find the reservoir, and I'll bet my bottom
dollar that it will turn out to be the Colobus after all that (and whoever
publishes it first will become an instant celebrity). Is this what comes
of ultra-specialization in science? I can't imagine how else a major
article in a major journal could overlook something so obvious.
Doug Yanega
Illinois Natural History Survey, Center for Biodiversity
607 E. Peabody Dr. Champaign, IL 61820  USA
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is
    the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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