Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #17 The Ebola Virus

Lis­ten now: One Seg­ment

This seg­ment sets forth infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing that the dead­ly Ebo­la virus that has emerged in Africa may be a man-made virus that was devel­oped in West­ern bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­grams. Rely­ing on infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in a Ger­man tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary and accessed in a mag­a­zine called The New African, the broad­cast notes that the epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the dis­ease makes lit­tle sense and that the insti­tu­tions deal­ing with the dis­ease are inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed to West­ern BW insti­tu­tions. An unnamed mil­i­tary offi­cial is quot­ed as say­ing that a 1976 out­break of the dis­ease was “the first time we’ve had the bug out­side of the lab.” (Record­ed in the spring of 1996.)


One comment for “FTR #17 The Ebola Virus”

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20341423

    NEW “Air­borne” Vari­ant of Ebo­la Virus Turns Up In Ugan­da

    15 Novem­ber 2012
    Grow­ing con­cerns over ‘in the air’ trans­mis­sion of Ebo­la
    By Matt McGrath
    Sci­ence reporter, BBC World Ser­vice

    The infec­tion is thought to get into humans through close con­tact with bod­i­ly flu­ids

    Fresh Ebo­la out­break in Ugan­da
    Lit­tle chance for ebo­la vac­cine

    Cana­di­an sci­en­tists have shown that the dead­liest form of the ebo­la virus could be trans­mit­ted by air between species.

    In exper­i­ments, they demon­strat­ed that the virus was trans­mit­ted from pigs to mon­keys with­out any direct con­tact between them.

    The researchers say they believe that lim­it­ed air­borne trans­mis­sion might be con­tribut­ing to the spread of the dis­ease in some parts of Africa.

    They are con­cerned that pigs might be a nat­ur­al host for the lethal infec­tion.

    Ebo­la virus­es cause fatal haem­or­rhag­ic fevers in humans and many oth­er species of non human pri­mates.

    Details of the research were pub­lished in the jour­nal Sci­en­tif­ic Reports.

    Accord­ing to the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO), the infec­tion gets into humans through close con­tact with the blood, secre­tions, organs and oth­er bod­i­ly flu­ids from a num­ber of species includ­ing chim­panzees, goril­las and for­est ante­lope.

    The fruit bat has long been con­sid­ered the nat­ur­al reser­voir of the infec­tion. But a grow­ing body of exper­i­men­tal evi­dence sug­gests that pigs, both wild and domes­tic, could be a hid­den source of Ebo­la Zaire — the most dead­ly form of the virus.

    Now, researchers from the Cana­di­an Food Inspec­tion Agency and the coun­try’s Pub­lic Health Agency have shown that pigs infect­ed with this form of Ebo­la can pass the dis­ease on to macaques with­out any direct con­tact between the species.

    In their exper­i­ments, the pigs car­ry­ing the virus were housed in pens with the mon­keys in close prox­im­i­ty but sep­a­rat­ed by a wire bar­ri­er. After eight days, some of the macaques were show­ing clin­i­cal signs typ­i­cal of ebo­la and were euthanised.

    One pos­si­bil­i­ty is that the mon­keys became infect­ed by inhal­ing large aerosol droplets pro­duced from the res­pi­ra­to­ry tracts of the pigs.

    Pigs could act as a host and ampli­fy the Ebo­la virus
    One of the sci­en­tists involved is Dr Gary Kob­inger from the Nation­al Micro­bi­ol­o­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry at the Pub­lic Health Agency of Cana­da. He told BBC News this was the most like­ly route of the infec­tion.

    “What we sus­pect is hap­pen­ing is large droplets — they can stay in the air, but not long, they don’t go far,” he explained.

    “But they can be absorbed in the air­way and this is how the infec­tion starts, and this is what we think, because we saw a lot of evi­dence in the lungs of the non-human pri­mates that the virus got in that way.”

    The sci­en­tists say that their find­ings could explain why some pig farm­ers in the Philip­pines had anti­bod­ies in their sys­tem for the pres­ence of a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the infec­tion called Ebo­la Reston. The farm­ers had not been involved in slaugh­ter­ing the pigs and had no known con­tact with con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed tis­sues.

    Dr Kob­inger stress­es that the trans­mis­sion in the air is not sim­i­lar to influen­za or oth­er infec­tions. He points to the expe­ri­ence of most human out­breaks in Africa.

    “The real­i­ty is that they are con­tained and they remain local, if it was real­ly an air­borne virus like influen­za is it would spread all over the place, and that’s not hap­pen­ing.”

    Hid­den host

    The authors believe that more work needs to be done to clar­i­fy the role of wild and domes­tic pigs in spread­ing the virus. There have been anec­do­tal accounts of pigs dying at the start of human out­breaks. Dr Kob­inger believes that if pigs do play a part, it could help con­tain the virus.

    “If they do play a role in human out­breaks it would be a very easy point to inter­vene” he said. “It would be eas­i­er to vac­ci­nate pigs against Ebo­la than humans.”

    Work­ers pre­pare to dis­in­fect dur­ing a recent Ebo­la out­break in Ugan­da

    Oth­er experts in the field were con­cerned about the idea that Ebo­la was sus­cep­ti­ble to being trans­mit­ted by air even if the dis­tance the virus could trav­el was lim­it­ed. Dr Lar­ry Zeitlin is the pres­i­dent of Mapp Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

    “It’s an impres­sive study that not only rais­es ques­tions about the reser­voir of Ebo­la in the wild, but more impor­tant­ly ele­vates con­cerns about ebo­la as a pub­lic health threat,” he told BBC News. “The thought of air­borne trans­mis­sion is pret­ty fright­en­ing.”

    At present, an out­break of ebo­la in Ugan­da has killed at least two peo­ple near the cap­i­tal Kam­pala. Last month, Ugan­da declared itself Ebo­la-free after an ear­li­er out­break of the dis­ease killed at least six­teen peo­ple in the west of the coun­try.

    Posted by R. Wilson | November 16, 2012, 10:42 pm

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