Virus deadly Ebola Epidemic in Guinea
The virus that has caused a deadly Ebola epidemic in Guinea is a new strain that emerged locally, possibly transmitted by fruit bats, virologists have said.
The outbreak is the first to be recorded in west Africa, but researchers said the virus causing it did not come from other countries where Ebola already circulates.
An international team of scientists unravelled the genome of the virus and found it to be distinct from strains in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, though they share an ancestor.
The virus is of the EBOV type — one of three species that have caused outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa, said the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
“This study demonstrates the emergence of EBOV in Guinea,” the authors wrote.
Data from the genetic analysis “suggest a single introduction of the virus into the human population,” probably in early December 2013 “or even before”, according to the study.
“It is suspected that the virus was transmitted for months before the outbreak became apparent,” it added.
“This length of exposure appears to have allowed many transmission chains and thus increased the number of cases of Ebola virus disease.”