Webpro News | June 6, 2005
By Jason L. Miller
Researchers in Canada and the US have moved a step closer in settling the scourge brought upon by two of the deadliest viruses known to man.
Ebola and Marburg, each with a death rate of 90 to 100%, threaten to wipe out the great ape population in Africa, and the fear of a major outbreak among humans is still heavy on the minds of doctors.
None too soon but not quite at the finish, researchers at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have developed vaccines to number the days of the horrible diseases.
Tested on monkeys at the Maryland based Army research center, the success rate of the vaccines in the monkeys tested suggest an effectiveness of 80%. Success in monkeys and apes provides hope for infected humans as well.
"Monkeys, when they are infected, suffer almost the identical disease to humans. If we can protect them using this vaccine ... then this gives us a good deal of confidence that this will work in humans," Steven Jones, a scientist involved in the study, told Reuters.
The diseases are easily transmitted as they are borne out the body through fluids like blood, sweat, saliva, and others. Minimal contact with and infected ape or person can cause a transmission, putting health care and wild life workers at risk of contracting the viruses.
Once infected, the Ebola and Marburg work rapidly within the body, causing bleeding from the lips, eyes, and rectum. Soon after, the internal organs begin to dissolve.
Scientists will begin working with the vaccine soon in attempt to limit the spread of the diseases among the Western lowland gorilla and the Central chimpanzee, living in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
Marburg has compounded the Ebola scare. An outbreak of Marburg began in March of this year, killing 335 people out of 399 infected.