Biocontainment lab director visits EPI to give lecture on Ebola

Biocontainment lab director visits EPI to give lecture on Ebola

On Wednesday, October 21, the director of the Galveston National Laboratory visited the Emerging Pathogens Institute to discuss the Ebola virus epidemic, focusing particularly on the current status of Ebola in West Africa and progress being made in the development of Ebola diagnostics, therapeutics and preventatives.

“Most of these outbreaks have peaked out at about a few hundred,” said Dr. James LeDuc during his talk. “Generally they’re relatively small, in rural areas, and controlled by separating people from those who are susceptible.” That all changed during the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, however.

Below are some of the key facts discussed during the lecture:

  • Although it is not known for certain how Ebola is maintained in nature, scientists believe that it follows a pattern similar to the Marbourg virus, where wild bats are the primary reservoir of the disease.
    • LeDuc hypothesized that when people eat “bush meat” infected with the virus, they introduce Ebola to human populations.
  • Though bats are thought to host Ebola, there is no concrete evidence of an Ebola urban transmission cycle between animals and humans.
  • Researchers have found evidence that the Ebola virus can be sexually transmitted even after a patient has overcome the disease.
    • One hundred men were tested for the Ebola virus over three-month intervals; viral loads decreased precipitously between three months and 12 months after infection.
  • Out of 881 Ebola virus disease infections among healthcare workers in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, over 500 died of the disease.