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  • on 10.02.2015
  • at 03:27 PM
  • by Kevin

Fight against Ebola epidemic far from over as virus mutates 0

Though the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 8,000 individuals in West Africa is finally slowing down, reports that the disease has mutated have left many ion the continent worried about future outbreaks.

Researchers at the Institut Pasteur in France, who have been tracking the outbreak in Guinea, are now analysing blood samples of patients to find out whether the mutation could result in the disease becoming more contagious in future.

“We know the virus is changing quite a lot. That is important for diagnosing new cases and for treatment. We need to know how the virus is changing to keep up with our enemy,” human geneticist Dr Anavaj Sakuntabhai told the BBC.

“A virus can change itself to less deadly but more contagious and that’s something we are afraid of,” he added.

Ebola, like HIV, has a high rate of mutation, raising the chances of becoming more infectious once it has adapted to conditions. The only consolation from the study is that the possibility of the virus changing from being transmitted through body fluids to being airborne, which would make it even deadlier, is almost nil.

Given the devastation that the disease has visited upon the continent, Africa will be waiting with bated breath as scientists try to establish the level of mutation.

Last year, the World Bank said the deadly Ebola epidemic could inflict a financial blow of up to $359 million on the fragile economies of the worst affected countries in West Africa by the end of 2014.

Continue reading at The East African

By Jeff Otieno

Photo Credit: NIAID / Flickr

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