Ebola: Researchers link first outbreak to native doctor’s funeral

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 31st, 2014
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Researchers at Harvard University in the United States last Friday associated the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone to the funeral of one of its traditional healers.

The native healer was said to have been treating Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patients from neighbouring Guinea before he contacted the disease which later killed him.

According to livescience. com, the first case of Ebola was discovered in May in Sierra Leone, following the death of the healer.

The Minister of Health in Sierra Leone released an official statement that equally linked the death of the healer to Ebola, after it concluded investigations.

Hear the Minister: “Investigators found 13 additional cases of Ebola, all in women who attended the burial.”

The researchers examined the viruses isolated from the blood of these patients, as well as subsequent Ebola patients, to discover the genetic characteristics of the Ebola virus responsible for the outbreak.

According to the researchers, “Understanding how a virus is changing is critical knowledge to the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, as they usually get specific parts of the viral genome that might change both between and within outbreaks.”

The findings indicate that the virus was brought to the region in the past decades, possibly by an infected bat travelling from Central Africa.

A research earlier conducted suggested that the virus was circulating in animals in West Africa for several decades without having been detected.

The researchers continued, “the virus seemed to have made a single jump from an animal to a person, from there continued its journey through human-to-human transmission.

“This finding can guide decisions on whether to focus on human -to -human spread of the virus , or on minimizing contact with animals, for example by banning the consumption of bush meat.”

It has been reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that over 3,069 persons have been suspected and confirmed as being infected by the virus, with 1552 deaths recorded globally.

There are at the moment no vaccines that can prevent people against the Virus, just as there is no cure for it as well.

An experimental treatment based on antibiotics, called ZMapp has shown promise in monkeys but it is unclear whether the drug is effective in taking care of the disease in humans.

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