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Ebola Zaire

Steven Poet poets at ccmail.orst.edu
Fri Jul 21 13:02:29 EST 1995

Robert Kersting <74252.1112 at CompuServe.COM> wrote:
> Dear Chris,
>   It seems to me that the Ebola virus (as most other viruses) 
> does not survive without its host. The fact that it actually is 
> so "virulent" is a tool to assure its survival. Currently nobody 
> knows what the natural source, or hiding place, of the virus is. 
> It is assumed that monkeys (I'm not sure about the specific 
> species) are the carrier, but nothing has been proven yet. But it 
> could as well be an insect or any other animal. 
>   The fact that we humans destroy more and more of our 
> environment gets us in contact with animals that were previously 
> living peacefully in their natural habitat. Through the contact 
> with humans, Ebola (and in the long run other viruses) are able 
> to jump species. Since you have read "Hot Zone", you probably 
> know that the Ebola virus consists of only 7 proteins. A probably 
> minor mutation in one or more of these proteins was the cause 
> that the virus could not jump over to humans in the 1989 Reston 
> incident. Otherwise it might have resulted in a worldwide 
> catastrophie.
>    If you are interested in Ebola and other re-emerging diseases, 
> you might want to consider reading Laurie Garret's "The Coming 
> Plague". It is a very fascinating book that covers many aspects 
> of this interesting topic of viruses.

There is also another reason for emerging viral diseases.  The 
improvement in our ability to make definitive diagnoses.  We are
arrogant to assume that we know about all the infectious agents
that currently infect humans.  As technology improves the list of 
human pathogens will grow.  If you don't look for something you won't
find it. 

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