November 28, 2008

New Species of Ebola Virus

Scientists discovered a new species of the Ebola virus, and they say it was responsible for a hemorrhagic fever outbreak in western Uganda in 2007.

A team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, the Uganda Virus Research Institute, the Uganda Ministry of Health and Columbia University identified the new virus.

Ebola virus infection in humans causes severe disease. Currently, there is no vaccine or other treatment against the infection, which kills between 53 and 90 percent of people afflicted with the virus.

The newest species is called Bundibugyo ebolavirus. Scientists say it is genetically distinct from all other known Ebola virus species. To identify the new species, scientists had to develop new diagnostic genetic sequencing methods.

Researchers said current worldwide efforts to design effective vaccines will need to take into account the distinct nature of this new member of the Ebola virus genus.

SOURCE: PLoS Pathogens, November 21, 2008


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