At least one little corner of the biodiversity problem seems to be doing well: biodiversity among deadly diseases. An outbreak of Ebola disease in Uganda in 2007 has now been shown to be caused by a previously unknown variant, now called Bundibugyo ebolavirus.
Ebola virus produces a particularly nasty kind of hemorrhagic fever. Richard Preston gave some gory descriptions in his 1999 bestseller, The Hot Zone. Case fatality ratios for Ebola are well over 50%, exceeding 90% [typo corrected] in some outbreaks. Ebola viruses are part of a viral family called filoviruses, that also includes Marburg virus, another cause of hemorrhagic fever. Ebola virus was known to have four genetically distinct species named for their location where they were first isolated: Zaire, Sudan, Reston and CÃ´te d'Ivoire. Prior to this, outbreaks have involved the Zaire and Sudan species. The Uganda outbreak now appears to represent a fifth distinct ebolavirus type and the third outbreak associated species, differing from other viruses in the Ebola genus by 30% of its genome. This degree of divergence is also seen in the other ebolavirus species and is thought to be a result of the different animal reservoirs or ecological niches in which the viruses occupy in the environment. Fruit bats have been implicated as one animal reservoir, although there are likely others.
The identification and characterization of this new ebolavirus was done using a new sequencing approach that in effect bootstrapped the sequencing of the novel virus into a method that could used already developed techniques for other ebola species. But the existence of a new species has implications for the struggling effort to develop diagnostic, therapeutic and vaccine methods to deal with the dreaded hemorrhagic fevers:
Current human prototype ebolavirus vaccines include Zaire and Sudan ebolaviruses. Cross-protection studies will need to be done to assess whether vaccine designs will need to incorporate the Bundibugyo ebolavirus. The unique nature of this virus has other implications too, including screening of potential antivirals and pathogenicity studies. Retrospective analysis of case description, epidemiologic and laboratory data from the Bundibugyo outbreak are still ongoing, but it is clear that the case fatality (~36%) associated with Bundibugyo ebolavirus infection is lower than that observed for Zaire ebolavirus (approx. 80-90%) and Sudan ebolavirus (approximately 50-55%). Studies in non-human primates need to be performed to compare the pathogenicity of these viruses. This investigation also highlights the power of molecular detection and characterization tools to quickly identify new pathogens, while providing a cautionary note regarding sole dependence on molecular techniques such as real-time PCR assays for detection of novel agents in biodefense or emerging disease surveillance programs. (Towner JS, Sealy TK, Khristova ML, AlbariÃ±o CG, Conlan S, et al. 2008 Newly Discovered Ebola Virus Associated with Hemorrhagic Fever Outbreak in Uganda. PLoS Pathogens 4(11): e1000212 doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000212)
Biodiversity is generally a good thing and we need to protect it. But in some areas, like deadly pathogens, we can get along without it.
Case fatality ratios for Ebola are well over 50%, exceeding 990% ...
I think you have an extra zero there.
llew: Thanks. Typo corrected (should have been 90%).
I was surprised by the 30% difference in sequences. Is this unusual in viruses it seems a very high figure for so closely related strains- not that I know anything about such things.
JJ: The whole issue if virus taxonomy is not very clear, but there is a 30% to 40% difference in sequence between all four of the existing species. They are considered distinct species of the genus ebolovirus, not strains of one species, but the lines here are a bit indistinct in my view. Species often differ by quite a bit.
Is there anything that can be done to prevent it or avoid it? Is it airborne? Does hygiene have any bearing? do any of the blood types or blood anomalies (like sickle cell etc) resist? Do survivors carry antibodies?
I'll stop before I hit 20 questions, but I could sure come up with them. This is terrifying given the state of the world and current events of late, especially when juxtaposed to biblical and other prophecies.
Checked out the frequency and locations of earthquakes lately? They don't get a lot more frequent and DIVERSE than that, I'll tell you. And I've heard about more than a few wars, and rumors of wars of late as well. Volcanoes undeniably spew brimstone and fire and look at how many are suddenly active! A one world system is all but accepted as fact now; Israel incites the east and the world to their own detriment; The middle east is poised for destruction, one way or another...
we've got a new president elect who wants to "draft" grandmas and school age kids into social programs that amount to nothing more than involuntary servitude, several states are trying to pass laws forcing their citizenry to submit to squalane, mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, cancer-causing viruses, human fetal tissues, stealth virus laced vaccines as the cdc sees fit and that includes the very dangerous, deadly even HPV vaccine that is killing young girls now even as we speak.
So, anything one can do to avoid this if IT becomes a world threat?
see what I mean? Everywhere you look is another reason
I just want to wrap myself in a giant condom and go live in a cave...lol
annje: No one I know is talking about mandatory service. Just service if you want college tuition help. Not a bad idea. Ebola is not very transmissible and requires pretty close contact with the body fluids of those who are sick. It's nasty, but not very likely to become a pandemic IMO. Flu is another story. The best thing we can do now is strengthen public health systems here and internationally to have effective surveillance and resilient communities. That is a public works effort, like roads and bridges. Maybe we'll get some of it instead of sending the money up in smoke, billions at a time and for no good purpose.
*fixates on other claims*
HPV vaccine is killing young girls even as we speak? Says who? Because I'm pretty sure that if there were credible evidence of that, it would be a huge scandal all over the news. (IIRC, Revere has written about how even the "swine flu" vaccine that everyone believes harmed people back in the 1970s may not have done so... because if you give enough people a vaccine, some of them are going to have an adverse event soon after, just by chance.)
Also... aspartame in vaccines? Why? All the taste, none of the calories?
It looks like the chicken little brigade is now equating vaccination against HPV with forcing to submit to HPV, and then claiming that that's the source of the cancer causing epidemic.
No annje, poe, whoever, it's only terrifying if you are willfully ignorant.
annje, step away from the keyboard and tanker of kool-aid and go take your meds.
Best weird rank I've seen her in a long time.
Wow, just wow.
And this is one grandma who will gladly serve if her country needs her.
How about you?