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Threatening Zoonoses

Filovirus Entry by AJ Cann

Two weeks after an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, the same disease is circulating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the outbreaks have been caused by two distinct subtypes of virus, meaning they were not spread from one country to the other. The same thing happened in 1976, when over 500 people died in the two regions, hundreds of miles apart. Tara C. Smith asks, “Is this just coincidence that Ebola has twice now broken out in two different places at the same time, but with different viral subtypes?” If not, and specific environmental or ecological conditions are triggering these outbreaks, then science may someday be able to predict or prevent them. Meanwhile, on Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle reports that an arenavirus common to rodents has been observed in snakes for the first time, causing them to “to stare off into space, appear like they were drunk and even tie themselves into knots they could not escape.”

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