Research

Origin of the Ebola epidemic

In March 2014, an outbreak of a febrile illness with vomiting, severe diarrhoea, and high fatality was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from Guinea, West Africa. Virological examination indicated that it was an Ebola outbreak.

A group of Ebola viruses under the electron microscope. In the blood of infected persons, the number of viruses may exceed 100 million per millilitre.

An international consortium led by our virologists found that it was a new Ebola strain, a cross of viruses from previous outbreaks in the Congo and in Gabon, which emerged unexpectedly far to the west, possibly carried by migration of bat colonies. Apparently, the epidemic arose from a two-year-old child who had died in December 2013 in the area of Guéckédou in Northeast Guinea. As the clinical syndromes were dominated by organ failure rather than the classical sign of bleeding, the term Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever was replaced by Ebola Virus Disease (EBVD).

 


Baize S. et al., N Engl J Med. 2014, 371:1418-25

Lisa Oestereich, Toni Rieger, Daniel Cadar, Martin Gabriel, Dennis Tappe, Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, Stephan Günther and external co-operation partners (see publication)