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Ebola outbreak kills 43 in Uganda

By maynard in MLP
Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:31:14 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

MSNBC is reporting that a new outbreak of the Ebola virus has already killed at least forty three people in Uganda.


For those who have been living under a rock for the last decade, Ebola, and it's cousin Marburg, are hemorrhagic fevers which kill from widespread hemorrhaging throughout the body. Victims first experience high fever, muscle aches, stomach pain, diarrhea, and fatigue, to be followed with massive bleeding from all orifices and then in most circumstances death. It's usually passed by contact with bodily fluids, and can be extremely contagious for those in proximity to the afflicted.

Since outbreaks have been rare, and fortunately contained, it's still unknown exactly how contagious this disease is, though it's assumed that outbreaks are of the utmost priority for the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control. Should this disease reach populated areas an epidemic could potentially devastate a population. A more detailed discussion of Ebola and Marburg may be found here.

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Ebola outbreak kills 43 in Uganda | 21 comments (16 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ebola is an interesting little bug (3.28 / 7) (#2)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:26:14 PM EST

I find it captivating that a tiny little germ like ebola doesn't find itself in a state of extinction. Its effects are so rapid and deadly that simple quarantine measures prevent its spread. While almost certainly deadly to the people that have been quarantined, its spread among human civilization is very difficult.

I also find it captivating that so little progress has been made in discovering what animals acts as resevoirs to the virus without succumbing to a horrifying bleeding death.

If you won't say it, I will (1.33 / 6) (#3)
by rednecktek on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:59:22 PM EST

CONSPIRACY!

Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
[ Parent ]
Good point (3.00 / 5) (#4)
by Bad Mojo on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:08:25 PM EST

There is one thing that truly makes Ebola dangerous. That is our lack of knowledge about it. We don't know why it manages to stay alive. We don't know if it has a carrier animal host that is immune to it. We don't know if there might be an airborn vector in it's cycle. We don't know if the CIA might be perfecting it as a new weapon. And contrary to what your parents might have told you as a kid ...

1) Monsters DO exist.
2) What you don't know, CAN hurt you.



-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

[ Parent ]
The Ebola Reston strain was transmitted by air (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by gnomon on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:25:00 PM EST

The scary thing is that at least one strain (the Ebola Reston strain (see Ebola-like Reston virus in Monkeys, paragraph 2; Haemorrhagic Fevers: Ebola; Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever Fact Sheet, section "History and Prevalence"), which was written about in "The Hot Zone" and vaguely alluded to in "Outbreak") can be transmitted through the air. This is the strain that broke out in the USA in 1989, by the way.

Fortunately, the Reston strain differs enough from the other varieties in that it does not apparently cause any symptoms in humans. Still, it's scary to think that such a close cousin of this particular virus can spread through the air - or, for that matter, that such a particularly nasty beast even exists.

The strange thing is, though, that Ebola outbreaks increased in virulence as time progressed (I forget where I read this, so do not take the following as the gospel truth - it's simply my own error-prone memory). If I recall correctly, a related outbreak in Marburg, Germany (sometime around 1960) had a fatality rate of less than 50%; subsequent outbreaks in the mid-70s in Sudan and Zaire had mortality rates around 50%; later outbreaks, particularly of the Zaire strand, had mortality rates approaching 90(+)%. (oh, wait - here's an article with some relevance: Institute for Molecular Virology: Marburg and Ebola Viruses, section "History")

This is downright wierd. Haemorrhagic fevers kill so quickly that they can burn themselves out - they break out in a terrifying, spectacular fashion, kill a huge number of people and then die out, because not enough hosts survive to continue the outbreak. This is bad for the virus itself from a survival point of view - how can it spread and evolve if its hosts are all dead? It doesn't make any sense.

Anyhow, it's been a while since I've done any reading about ebola and its cousins - might be time to catch up on what's been happening in the past five or so years.



[ Parent ]
Apologies (none / 0) (#15)
by gnomon on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:27:47 PM EST

Yeesh. Many apologies for replicating so many previously-offered links. I feel like a right fool.



[ Parent ]
Very true... (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by Bad Mojo on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:34:26 PM EST

I will point out that as the CDC and WHO has begun tracking Ebola (among other things) outbreaks around the world, medical teams have been able to get into an area quicker. This means that people have received treatment (what little can be done) much quicker. I don't know what overall effect this has had on those figures, but since I don't work for the CDC, I may never know.

Anyways, the issue about Ebola burning itself out so quickly could be an indicator that there is a pool of infected carriers that sporadically end up spawning an outbreak. As long as this pool of carriers exists, the virus will be passed around, mutating and evolving and dying until a strain hits mankind and finds the perfect balance between `too fast' and `too slow' a killer. It's not unlike a bell tower gunman perfecting his aim while we all stand around. Sure, we see some homless people get shot but we don't seem to care.


-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

[ Parent ]
Why we don't know anything (2.40 / 5) (#5)
by Nickus on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:18:27 PM EST

Simple. This bug exists mostly in Africa. Which simply means that the "civilized" world doesn't care. Just see how little money the AIDS-research get and that is a disease that affect us all.


Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
Hantavirus? (none / 0) (#19)
by aphrael on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:24:14 PM EST

Somewhere i'd picked up the impression that Ebola was related *in effects* if not in origin or biochemistry to the various Hantaviruses which pop up in rural New Mexico and California from time to time ...

[ Parent ]
There's a theory... (3.60 / 5) (#7)
by Ruidh on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:24:31 PM EST

I find it captivating that a tiny little germ like ebola doesn't find itself in a state of extinction.

...that evolutionally young pathogens are more virulent than evolutionally older pathogens. The evolutionary pressures on both pathogens and their hosts to is to evolve into a relationship where the pathogen dosn't kill the host quickly and the host can survive the pathogen.

If this theory is correct, it may explain why these apparently young diseases are so virulent right now.
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]
Just a small correction (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by Moneo on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 02:34:50 AM EST

There's just one extra little wrinkle to this idea...the evolutionarily stable virulence level is related to the transmission mode. A virus that jumps from host to host very quickly can be extremely virulent and still spread, whereas one that is slowly transmitted cannot afford to be very malignant, since it would kill its host before being successfully transmitted.

That's why Ebola can afford to be so very deadly -- it is transmitted extremely quickly.
Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky
[ Parent ]
Incubation periods can help here, too (none / 0) (#21)
by Aquarius on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 04:40:09 AM EST

As I understand it, if the virus can be caught by a patient and the patient remains infectious for a period of time before the virus "activates" and kills them, it will also spread fast. Of course, this doesn't really happen with Ebola; you can't have it long before you crash, because it's an unpleasant slatewiper...

Aq.


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
Wow! (2.50 / 2) (#6)
by AgentGray on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:22:24 PM EST

Reminds me of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

Except ... (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by Bad Mojo on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:59:38 PM EST

The Andromeda Strain itself caused the blood in a human to coagulate(sp). A not so fun way to go. The virus in the book would also grow more rapidly when exposed to radiation.

This is a GOOD book and an EXCELLENT movie. If you are interested in space travel and how we might face a virulent invasion, read or watch this.



-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

[ Parent ]
Andromeda strain of Ebola (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by hypatia on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 09:59:56 PM EST

Reminds me of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.
As another poster pointed out, Crichton's andromeda strain isn't ebola. However, The Hot Zone uses the term 'andromeda strain' to name a variety of ebola, which hopefully doesn't exist, that spreads through droplet infection like the flu. This would make outbreaks of ebola dangerous not only to a community with members in physical contact, but to large groups of people, and could then spread around the world via plane flight (although ebola has a relatively short incubation period).

[ Parent ]
A book about Ebola (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by MightyE on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:04:49 PM EST

For more about the Ebola virus, I very highly recommend the book "The Hot Zone" by Michael Preston (as found on Barnes & Noble) It contains a very thorough and easy to follow description of not only how Ebola works in the body, but also how it spreads, and vivid descriptions of it's short and long term effects. Absolutely fascinating book! Did you know that there was an outbreak of a cousin of Ebola in a monkey house just outside of DC? If you buy this book, don't read the last chapter though, the last chapter is simply stupid, but the rest of the book is enthralling.
here's my sig
Death toll rising... (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by skim123 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 08:10:01 PM EST

Death toll has surpassed 50
http://www.vny.com/cf/news/upidetail.cfm?QID=128170

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Ebola outbreak kills 43 in Uganda | 21 comments (16 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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