Origin of Current Ebola Epidemic

An international study team has quickly sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes obtained in the 2014 epidemic. The team hopes the results will assist multidisciplinary, global efforts to realize and contain the unprecedented outbreak that is expanding in West Africa.

Scientists have quickly sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from the current epidemic and are sharing them with the medical group to speed up response efforts.

The scientists report their results in the journal Science. 5 team associates died of Ebola virus disease prior to the manuscript was released, and their fellow authors respect their memory in the study report.

The 99 genomes came from 78 sufferers clinically diagnosed with Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone while in the first 24 days of the epidemic. Some sufferers gave over one sample, enabling the team to see how the virus modified over the course of a single infection.

Team extended data accessible on Ebola by four-fold

Making use of deep sequencing methods, the group enhanced the volume of data accessible on the Ebola virus by fourfold. The outcomes present the 2014 Ebola virus genomes consist of over 300 mutations that differentiate them from earlier outbreaks.

The group also identified clues to recommend the 2014 epidemic began from a single introduction into human beings and then propagate among them over several months.

With respect to Physicians without Borders/MSF, fruit bats are believed to be the natural host of the Ebola virus, which initial showed up among humans in simultaneous epidemic in Nzara in Sudan, and in Yambuku in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1976. The DRC epidemic took place in a place near the Ebola River, therefore the name of the virus.

The 2014 epidemic is unprecedented in both its size and the truth it appeared in various highly populated places in West Africa, and not in sparsely populated places in Middle Africa, as before. Formerly, the biggest outbreak was in 1976 and noted 318 cases. The present outbreak has reported more than 2,000 cases since it emerged in Guinea, which includes more than 1,000 deaths.

The WHO say the present epidemic has attacked 240 health care staff in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria and over 120 have died.

Current Ebola moved to Sierra Leone in 12 individuals who went to funeral in Guinea

The new research reveals that the 2014 Ebola strains probably have a common ancestor back in the 1976 epidemic. It also indicates the strains in the present West African outbreak separated from the Middle African version in the past 10 years and were brought to Sierra Leone by 12 individuals who went to the same funeral in Guinea.

The mutations in the 2014 Ebola strains are generally in genes that code for proteins. This is essential information for scientists developing diagnostic exams who require to maintain track of how the virus is modifying. With this in thoughts, the scientists released the genome series to the international scientific community prior to publishing the study.

Co-senior author Pardis Sabeti, states that:

“By making the information quickly accessible to the community, we wish to speed up response efforts. Upon launching our initial batch of Ebola series in June, some of the globe’s major epidemic professionals approached us, and most of them are now also actively working on the data.”

The research provides a catalog of 395 mutations, of which more than 340 differentiate the present outbreak from past ones, and more than 50 have happened within the present outbreak. The group considers they serve a beginning point for additional research, as initial author Stephen Gire, a research scientist in Sabeti’s lab, describes:

“Even though we do not know whether these variations are associated to the seriousness of the current epidemic, by sharing these information with the study community, we wish to speed up our understanding of this outbreak and assist global initiatives to contain it.”