Question from an "arm-chair hack"

Sat May 20 08:13:49 EST 1995

In article <3pj6tu$lls at> litekepr at (The LightKeeper) writes:
>Assumptions I'm using:
>Ebola is a "jungle virus."  The outbreaks have all occured in or
>around remote parts of Africa.  (excepting Reston, granted)
>No one has found a resivoir for Ebola.  No fields of dead jungle
>creatures or the like.
>Ebola is NOT primarily a human virus.  Human populations don't
>sustain it.
>Ebola is far too nasty to its human victims to survive evolution
>(so it seems) as a human virus.  Even lower primates seem overly
>affected by it.
>Heres the thing: If Ebola was so amazingly nasty, and has such a
>tremendous mortality, why AREN'T there fields of dead jungle
>creatures?  If in a short time HUNDREDS of humans die from this
>thing, why are the monkey populations of Africa gone by now.
>Surely monkey colonies observe no quarentines, surely they would
>be more in contact with the virus than we.  Why is this?
>(arm-chair hack to the stars)
Well, my arm-charm ridden friend, that's exactly the point. Ebola is
quite likely (I say that in the absence of anything concrete) a
"natural" pathogen of an animal vector. When in its natural host,
most parasites (including viruses) balance virulence with the need
to leave their host in good enough health to pass the disease on. If
monkeys are the reservoir host as is being speculated, it would
doubtfully be as deadly as it is to us because it would simply burn
out as it is hoped ebola will.
The fact that people die so quickly is an indication that ebola is a
pathogen out of its element. Killing your host to quickly is not a
very efficient strategy for reproduction unless you can hide out in
the environment and wait for another host to come along like alot of
bacterial viruses do.
The animals which harbour ebola (monkeys perhaps, it might be bunny
rabbits for all we know) probably experience an infection which is
much less severe.
Hope this answers the "dead monkey" question.
Cheers, PJ Jardine

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