Ebola Virus Current Affairs
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Researchers working in joint US-West African study funded by USAid have discovered new strain of Ebola virus in bats in northern Bombali region of Sierra Leone. It has been named as Bombali virus strain, after district where it was found. The Bombali virus is overall sixth known virus strain Ebola virus. Others are Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston. Ebola virus is a highly fatal haemorrhagic fever that is spread through contact with bodily fluids from infected persons and animals which include non-human primates, bats and forest antelope. Zaire strain of Ebola virus is the most deadly strain known
The new Bombali strain of Ebola virus is distinct from its other virus strains. It is not yet known whether it could develop into the deadly disease. It is also not known that if Bombali virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people. However, results show it has the potential to infect human cells. Further research will help in understanding more about specific risks it poses.
The finding of new strain of virus comes two years after end of worst-ever Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three West African neighbouring countries were hard hit by Ebola outbreak which began in Guinea in December 2013 before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The epidemic was declared over by World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 after claiming over 11,300 lives out of nearly 30,000 registered cases. The 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was caused by Zaire virus, which was discovered in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire in 1976.
The clinical trials of two experimental Ebola vaccines cAd3-EBOZ and rVSV-ZEBOV were found to be safe and capable of eliciting immune response against Ebola virus that lasts for at least one year.
The findings were based on a study of clinical trials on 1,500 adults that began during West Africa Ebola outbreak. Three groups of 500 volunteers received one of the vaccine candidates or a placebo (saline injection).
During clinical trials, it was observed that responses to both vaccine candidates were modest at one week. However, by one month, 71% of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 84% of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients developed an antibody response compared to 3% of placebo recipients.
These trials have yielded valuable information for development of these two Ebola vaccine candidates and also demonstrated that well-designed, ethically sound clinical research can be conducted during an epidemic. These safe and effective Ebola vaccines will play important role in controlling inevitable future Ebola outbreaks in addition to existing classical public health measures.
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
EVD is viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva.
It also spreads through sexual transmission. Symptoms of EVD are high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. However, in past outbreaks case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90%. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the deadliest outbreak of the virus in the history which had killed 11,000 people.