New Ebola virus strain causing epidemic in Africa

West Africa's Ebola outbreak was caused by a previously unknown strain of the virus, and may have come from fruit bats, virologists said.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   April 18, 2014 at 2:36 PM

CONAKRY , Guinea, April 18 (UPI) -- The deadly Ebola virus ravaging Guinea emerged locally, and is a different strain of virus from one discovered in central Africa, virologists confirmed.

The spread of Ebola from Guinea, in western Africa, to neighboring Liberia, has panicked a region with poor health care and porous borders, and has killed 122 people, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists examined the virus genome and learned it is distinct from strains in countries such as Uganda, South Sudan, and democratic Republic of Congo, where Ebola was already known to circulate.

Blood tests from victims determined the disease was not introduced from central Africa. A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested “a single introduction of the virus into the human population” prior to December 2013, adding, “it is suspected that the virus was transmitted for months before the outbreak became apparent.”

The virus is transmitted by human contact. The study said fruit bats, found throughout western Africa, were “potential reservoirs” of the virus.


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