Ebola: a quick question

Megan megan at ucla.edu
Wed Apr 30 13:33:37 EST 1997


At 11:00 PM 4/29/97 -0400, Michael Osier wrote:
>Nanda Somarajan wrote:
>>         You would think that the whole nation would be in an outbreak,
>> but for some reason, it is not. 
>
>from what I understand, the virus is so quick to kill its host that it
>"burns itself out"...if a virus spreads slowly, undetected, and without
>killing the host, it will be easier for the virus to become
>widespread...for instance, HIV kills its host relatively slowly (years
>vs days)...often it has years of infectivity where it shows no major
>effects on the host, and is therefore unable to be detected without
>antibody tests...except for the later stages, one can't look at someone
>and tell if they are HIV positive...
>

This is true, however it does not answer the question originally posed.  WHY
ARE WE NOT SEEING AN OUTBREAK OF EBOLA IN ZAIRE?  Not just no infection of
American troops, and not just because the people avoid the infected person
(which, incidentally, they do not do nearly enough - I recall that a good
many of the people who died last time were caring for sick people and caught
the virus).

In this time of mass migration, movement of hundreds and thousands of people
through the forest, where it is presumed a natural vector would live, why
are we not seeing anyone in Zaire with ebola?  It is a very interesting
question, and I sincerely hope we are not answered with an outbreak.  The
people there are having a hard enough time without Ebola.  But the question
remains, why are we not having an outbreak, and where is the virus hiding.
The people in the forests of Zaire right now are probably hungry, and eating
anything that they can - something there must carry ebola.  How much longer
can this crisis go on before we do get an outbreak?  And this time, it is
not likely to be so easily contained, with people moving rapidly, and a war
going on.  There are few services in place that are capable of containing it
if it does show.

Any ideas why we havent seen it?  any thoughts as to when we might?

Megan Igo
megan at ucla.edu

>if a virus rapidly displays symptoms, it loses this protection, as
>people stay away from the infected person, etc...
>
>hope this helps
>Og
>
>----------------------------------------------------------------------
>Michael Osier = mosier at moose.uvm.edu | "He is not well rounded who does
>http://mole.uvm.edu/~mosier/         | not have an equally keen interest
>BS Biochemical Science - UVM         | in all of the things within the
>Yale University                      | compass of painting."
>Human Genetics             - Og      | Leonardo da Vinci
>
>




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