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Biotech Medicine Science

Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-a-pill-for-that dept.
ananyo writes "Monkeys infected with Ebola have been cured by a cocktail of three antibodies first administered 24 hours or more after exposure. The result raises hopes that a future treatment could improve the chances of humans surviving the disease caused by the deadly virus, which kills up to 90% of infected people and could potentially be used as a biological weapon. Most treatment regimes tested to date only improve chances of survival if administered within one hour of infection (abstract)."
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Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:05PM (#40329739)

    Oooooook?

    • by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@NospaM.mindless.com> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:29PM (#40329951) Journal

      Why did this get modded down? Seems like a perfectly reasonable question from a concerned party.

    • Re:Ooooooook. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:52PM (#40330175)

      Oooooook?

      Yes, monkeys were deliberately exposed to Ebola in the name of medical research. Yes, they would have had to be euthanized if the experiment had failed. In fact, they'll likely be killed anyhow just to ensure containment of any form of the virus.

      Sorry.

      BTW mods; there is nothing wrong with the occasional question from our simian relatives. Just leave this sort of thing for those of us that understand Primate and spare the down-mods.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by couchslug (175151)

        "BTW mods; there is nothing wrong with the occasional question from our simian relatives."

        Questions from the subjects are prejudicial to good simian discipline.

        Order requires credible threat of force, so I spank my monkey constantly.

        • by Crag (18776)

          "BTW mods; there is nothing wrong with the occasional question from our simian relatives."

          Questions from the subjects are prejudicial to good simian discipline.

          Order requires credible threat of force, so I spank my monkey constantly.

          That's reasonable, but I exhort you to exercise caution to ensure you don't rustle your monkey's jimmies.

          • by couchslug (175151)

            "That's reasonable, but I exhort you to exercise caution to ensure you don't rustle your monkey's jimmies."

            I grew up watching Westerns, and the moral there is that rustlers were hung.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Scoldog (875927)
        I'd be careful calling him a monkey if I was you. The Librarian is an orangutan, and will show his displeasure at being called a monkey by unscrewing your head!
      • Your post was not of any assurance, even if they are put down the virus still very active. Virus's have been notorious for mutating, around humans immune systems.. And this virus attacks and kills in 5-7 days, so you are only going to get to a few people before they die. Any kind of outbreak in large populations is not going get contained, to be honest we have been lucky it did not break out from the small villages it has been spotted in. I often wondered if this virus was a man made or government made, fo
        • "they'll likely be killed anyhow"...

          "Your post was not of any assurance..."

          You seem to be assuming that they'd be killed...and then placed in a landfill, or ground up for fertilizer, or undergone some other non-destructive disposal. I would think that they'd be sent to a biohazard incinerator and burned at high temperature for a long time.

          • Yes I do know this, but the scientist seem to like playing with things that have proven to be something you cannot control.. How many outbreak have there been virus, or experiments that have accidentally gotten out. That is the concern..
  • Bowling.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I guess my league name of Ebowla is on it's way out...

  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:14PM (#40329819) Journal
    Hit it hard and hit it fast, it's the same epidemiological solution to a zombie uprising. [uottawa.ca]
    • Hit it hard and hit it fast...

      I'm way ahead [hornady.com] of you!

      • Ammunition isn't as effective against Ebola, however. In fact it makes things worse, what with the spattering and all.
        • by Grog6 (85859)

          Yes, exactly!

          Remember, The spatter is highly infectious if breathed in; Gas masks are a great idea. (as well as nice fashion accessory, if done with class 3 dressout.)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Please, that model is severely flawed. Plus they show a lack of understanding of the movies they are using for their standard model.
      And of course using a move where anyone who dies becomes a Zombie regardless off the reason the death is lame.

      Not a lame as using any weak ass excuse to talk about zombies, but lame non the less.

      • I don't know--Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead,' which is arguably one of the most influential (if not the most influential) modern zombie film pretty strongly implied that anyone who died would rise. Zombie bites were still fatal, but any corpse with an intact brain would reanimate. I agree that this is more problematic from a 'scientific realist' standpoint (to the extent that an infectious disease turning people into brain-eating revnants is realistic), but it IS consistent with one of the foundational

  • by bmo (77928) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:16PM (#40329835)

    Anyone who actively develops bioweapons is a criminal. He or she is a direct hazard to humanity and needs to be removed from society as soon as possible. We have seen what happens when a particularly virulent illness from MomNature herself wreaks havoc, like the 1918 flu or Bubonic Plague. To deliberately take something such as Ebola and weaponize it shocks the conscience. Unlike nuclear weapons which simply level cities and cause localised radioactive areas, bioweapons are the gift that keeps on giving and do indeed go wildly out of control once they are deployed. This is not idle speculation. We proved it with smallpox blankets.

    If you develop bioweapons, you need to be in jail, or dead.

    --
    BMO

    • This problem will never go away.

      People don't learn the proper lesson from damocles. Instead of discovering that being in power is inexoribly linked to the threat of being cast down, and that the chair is so cursed, and should only be sat in as a necessity, they instead clamor for it, and seek to cut the sword hanging over their heads down by force, and remove those intrinsic threats by violence.

      When you take a position of power, and realize that the general public can and will do you harm if you are a tyran

      • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:58PM (#40330239) Journal

        Dionysius (II) was a fourth century B.C. tyrant of Syracuse, a city in Magna Graecia [about.com], the Greek area of southern Italy. To all appearances Dionysius was very rich and comfortable, with all the luxuries money could buy, tasteful clothing and jewelry, and delectable food. He even had court flatterers (adsentatores) to inflate his ego. One of these ingratiators was the court sycophant, Damocles. Damocles used to make comments to the king about his wealth and luxurious life. One day when Damocles complimented the tyrant on his abundance and power, Dionysius turned to Damocles and said, "If you think I'm so lucky, how would you like to try out my life?"

        Damocles readily agreed, and so Dionysius ordered everything to be prepared for Damocles to experience what life as Dionysius was like. Damocles was enjoying himself immensely... until he noticed a sharp sword hovering over his head, that was suspended from the ceiling by a horse hair. This, the tyrant explained to Damocles, was what life as ruler was really like.

        Damocles, alarmed, quickly revised his idea of what made up a good life, and asked to be excused. He then eagerly returned to his poorer, but safer life.

        ... For those of us not up on our Classical stories.

      • Very insightful comment. For possible ways forward through a transformation of prespective, see my essay:
        http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
        "Biological weapons like genetically-engineered plagues are ironic because they are about using advanced life-altering biotechnology to fight over which old-fashioned humans get to occupy the planet. Why not just use advanced biotech to let people pick their skin color, or to create living arkologies and agricultural abun

      • by bmo (77928)

        >To kill anyone who would make and use these weapons, is to kill all ambitious world leaders.

        Then maybe we should start polishing the blade on Dr. Guillotine's machine.

        I could draw another literary allusion for you: the story of the priests (of science) and princes in "A Canticle for Liebowitz" when it came to unleashing the fires of Hell, twice.

        It was said that God, in order to test mankind which had become swelled with pride as in the time of Noah, had commanded the wise men of that age, among them th

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Tell me, What is a 'bioweapon'? IS maintaining strains so you can develop treatments creating a bioweapon?

      • by bmo (77928)

        >IS maintaining strains so you can develop treatments creating a bioweapon?

        Does this really need to be answered? Really?

        Oh fuck, I'll say it.

        No, no it's not and I don't know how the fuck you read that into my message.

        Christ on a toothpick.

        --
        BMO

        • Contrary to your response, there's a substantial amount of research that could be classified as either bio-defense or biological weapon development depending on the perspective. Plenty of experts in the field (see Ken Alibek's 'Biohazard' or Judy Mikovits' 'Germs' for example) recognize this as a key difficult in trying to minimize proliferation. Other activities are a bit less ambiguous, of course: if you're studying the mechanical properties of anthrax spores in order to determine how to optimize aerosoli

      • by wierd_w (1375923)

        No, that's catalogueing and preserving a research sample.

        Production of a bioweapon is like what the USSR did with anthrax. Take ordinary soil microbes, and pressure them in lab conditions to take on characteristics that make them horrifically virulent and lethal to humans, produce them in bulk in a heated culture tank, carefully dry it so that it forms into spores, then load that into air-burst conventional warheads for military deployment.

      • No, it's not. Small pox is maintained in a few locations to be used for research and no one considers that to be a criminal act.

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Actually the evidence at this point strongly suggests that the bubonic plague was so severe because there was poor sanitation and they didn't know how to do very basic care. http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/10/13/black-death-not-initiated-by-a/ [scienceblogs.com]. Simillarly, the 1918 flu was so devastating in part because it occurred at the end of World War I so basic infrastructure was severely damaged, and you had massive numbers of returning troops as well as refugees moving all over thus making it spread easily.
      • by bmo (77928)

        While the sanitation part of Bubonic Plague is not as applicable today, the latter, the 1918 virus, is even more apropos.

        People are so much more mobile than they were back in 1918, with so many more people on the move. Instead of the flu having to hitch a ride with a passenger on a steamship, taking a week to get across the Atlantic, we have people flying between continents in the matter of hours.

        A 1918 flu epidemic could very well be much worse today.

        --
        BMO

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          On the other hand, one could also argue that the ease of moving from place to place dramatically increases the probability that any given person anywhere on Earth has been exposed to a strain that is similar to any given strain that might reasonably mutate in a way that caused increased deaths. Thus, depending on how the pandemic starts (by mutation or by cross-species transmission), it might make things better or worse.

          • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
            That's unlikely. For most of the nasty stuff like Ebola, or Marburg or Lassa fever, most humans haven't been exposed at all. Similarly, pretty much no one today has immunity to yellow fever. To some extent, I'm more worried about malaria or yellow fever spreading a lot after a general societal breakdown for some other cause. Without regular drainage programs, diseases which use insects as vectors have a fun time. There's an excellent section in Charles Mann's 1493 covering the effects of those diseases- wit
            • by dgatwood (11270)

              For most of the nasty stuff like Ebola, or Marburg or Lassa fever, most humans haven't been exposed at all.

              Ultimately, it depends on whether the pandemic is caused by A. a new virus (in which case ease of movement makes it worse), B. an existing deadly virus that becomes more transmissible (in which case ease of movement makes it worse), or C. an existing non-deadly virus that becomes more virulent (in which case ease of movement can reduce the average virulence).

              To some extent, I'm more worried about mala

          • Ironically, ebola's virulence and swift death is what saves us from global pandemic. Basically, ebola (and Marburg) are viruses that are too virulent and deadly for their own good. They kill their victims too quickly to ever have time to spread. The viruses that "survive" and "thrive" (in quotes, because viruses aren't actually "alive" in the conventional sense) are the ones that don't kill their victims, and quietly simmer and spread forever. Herpes is the classic example. Lucky people get infected by HSV-

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Anyone who actively develops bioweapons is a criminal. He or she is a direct hazard to humanity and needs to be removed from society as soon as possible.

      Many Western countries still have offensive biochem programs, they just had to be rolled into the defensive programs in order to conform with international treaties.

      It wouldn't surprise me at all if the military has or is working on weaponized Ebola.
      Their logic is that they need to weaponize it so that they can anticipate threats and develop treatments.

    • Like the US Government and Anthrax right?

      • by bmo (77928)

        Did I stutter?

        Of course I think so.

        --
        BMO

        • Did I stutter?

          Of course I think so.

          Not disagreeing, but do you think we have any recourse at all, given the current system?

          • by bmo (77928)

            >Not disagreeing, but do you think we have any recourse at all, given the current system?

            So just give up? Don't hold up the mirror to the emperor to show he has no clothes?

            --
            BMO

            • So just give up? Don't hold up the mirror to the emperor to show he has no clothes?

              Don't give up , just focus energy on where it can do good. I don't think the current system is capable of giving up biological or nuclear weapons. It's a structural problem, an inherent consequence of the system. Not so much with biological, but there are people who have spent the past 65 years protesting nuclear weapons, and look where that's gotten them.

              Replace the system with one that can behave in a non-psychopathic ma

              • by bmo (77928)

                >Replace the system with one that can behave in a non-psychopathic manner

                That's not going to happen without civil war.

                --
                BMO

                • That's not going to happen without civil war.

                  I think the USSR experience has shown us otherwise, but let's assume it's true and you have to decide between a domestic civil war and the USG deploying biological agents around the world. What's the math on that?

                  • by bmo (77928)

                    >>That's not going to happen without civil war.

                    >I think the USSR experience has shown us otherwise

                    I dunno, man, Yeltsin shelling Parliament sure looked like civil war to me. George Clinton unavailable for comment.

                    >but let's assume it's true and you have to decide between a domestic civil war and the USG deploying biological agents around the world. What's the math on that?

                    There is no math at that point except a measurement of entropy/chaos. At that point the US has become a rogue state.

                    The out

                    • I dunno, man, Yeltsin shelling Parliament sure looked like civil war to me.

                      Doesn't it actually look more like a coup? 187 killed, and, what, two buildings assaulted?

                      Or you could look at the Velvet Revolution, with no casualties, or the Orange Revolution, where one man died (of a heart attack, hard to show causation).

                      Most civil wars don't look like that. But all three of these events fundamentally reformed governments. You make a good point that the outcome is indeterminate enough; so at some point we hav

                    • by bmo (77928)

                      >At least we still have Glen Greenwald, Amy Goodwin, Ben Swann, and some alternate news channels like RT, Al Jazeera, BBC International, et. al. Not that any one of them is to be trusted implicitly but where they tend to agree there might be some truth.

                      I find GG shrill and high-pitched in his writing far too often even though he is right many times. It makes him difficult to read.

                      I too get much of my news from non-US sources. Al J English is top notch, they are all BBC alumni. I have listened to the BBC

    • by couchslug (175151)

      The capability to protect against BW is similar to the capability required to weaponize it.

      Be careful how laws are written.

      • by bmo (77928)

        The capability will always be there. Everything has dual uses. I railed against people putting restrictions on basic science over dual use in the past if you have read any of it.

        Metallurgy gives us the turf cutting plow and the machine gun.

        I'm not against metallurgy.

        Or in this case, researching dangerous microbes. Such research gives us not only insight into how to combat the other guy's bioweapons, but how to combat MomNature's dirty tricks.

        I am against the development of bioweapons as they are a greate

    • by Benfea (1365845) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:45PM (#40331051)
      They're not just evil, they're insane. Once released, you can't control where they go, a lesson that should have been learned from the Bubonic Plague, but apparently neither Soviets nor Americans learned our lessons from history. :(
      • by bmo (77928)

        Someone here gets it.

        Welcome to my friends list.

        --
        BMO

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          No, I think just about everyone gets it.

          Even Nuclear should not really get off the hook. A few big ones go off and there would be environmental consequences affecting generations.

          The most somebody can do here is rationalize a "defensive" weapons program, which does not excuse the weaponization (mass deployment) of a biological contagion.

          What's insanity is rationalizing a biological weapons program in the first place. If that is not a clear threat to all of humanity, and our future generations, I don't kno

      • They're not just evil, they're insane. Once released, you can't control where they go, a lesson that should have been learned from the Bubonic Plague, but apparently neither Soviets nor Americans learned our lessons from history. :(

        If you kill your enemies, it doesn't matter who else dies. Try to think more like a psychopath, Benfea, they're in charge. Ok, you can call it "political sophistication" if you prefer:

        Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have d

    • We proved it with smallpox blankets.

      Well, no.

      Last I looked into the subject, smallpox blankets were unlikely to have done much of anything.

      Much more likely that smallpox spread to the Indians the old-fahioned way - from a white guy with smallpox.

    • by Rijnzael (1294596)
      Smallpox blankets didn't happen. It's just another part of Ward Churchill's academic misconduct.

      See here [wikipedia.org].
  • Far more important (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grayhand (2610049) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:31PM (#40329967)
    The odds of weaponized Ebola are fairly small. Viruses are inherently hard to treat so this would have the potential for treating that entire class of virus. A similar approach may even be potentially an option for AIDs since a small percentage of the population produces the antibodies for AIDs. There is reason to think it might work on AIDs since one man was cured when he received a bone marrow transplant from some one that has the natural immunity. The trick is producing enough of the right antibodies.
    • by dunezone (899268)

      There is reason to think it might work on AIDs since one man was cured when he received a bone marrow transplant from some one that has the natural immunity. The trick is producing enough of the right antibodies.

      Actually almost everyone produces an antibody for HIV the problem is that only a handful of people can keep up with producing the antibody to fight off the virus or that's the going theory right now. As for the man that was cured, that is more of a long shot treatment, we can keep people alive for a long time now just with anti-virals that the risk of a bone marrow transplant is not worth it.

    • There is reason to think it might work on AIDs since one man was cured when he received a bone marrow transplant from some one that has the natural immunity. The trick is producing enough of the right antibodies.

      No, the trick is to have an immune system where the receptor that the HIV virus uses for its backdoor exploit is defective (in a way that doesn't just break the immune system.) Then the virus either can't propagate at all or propagates slowly enough that the immune system can get ahead of the virus

  • by Soporific (595477) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:43PM (#40330101)

    I really didn't think they would have live monkeys running around being infected with Ebola. I realize it's at a lab or something, but aren't they kind of difficult to contain or isolate biologically?

    ~S

    • Check out the book The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston. It reads like fiction, but is non-fiction about several ebola outbreaks. Including one at a primate facility in Reston Virginia.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hot_Zone [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:Monkeys (Score:4, Informative)

      by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:14PM (#40330395) Homepage
      Ebola is deadly but it isn't that great at spreading. The vast majority of Ebola spread occurs through bodily fluids. This is a problem in less sanitary or hygenic environments- if you don't know the person who is vomiting has Ebola you aren't going to be as careful. Avoiding direct contact works for most purposes and so Ebola research generally occurs in a Biosafety-4 lab http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosafety_level [wikipedia.org]. This generally means that one has a pressure suit on at all times when working with the agent or infected lab animals. One goes through an ultraviolet scan and a shower system on exiting. But in the case of Ebola most of this is arguably overkill (in comparison most level 4 critters are ones that can spread through the air or through very small droplets). When doctors and nurses are working with Ebola they often just use full face masks without pressure suits (although that is to some extent for the practical reason that bringing pressure suits out to isolated areas would be very tough, and you certainly can't bring the whole lab environment out).
      • by bmo (77928)

        The vast majority of Ebola spread occurs through bodily fluids.

        But that's the thing about Ebola - it's a haemorrhagic (I spelled that right on the first try!) fever, where the patient leaks bodily fluids everywhere, and a weaponised version of Ebola, if unleashed, would overwhelm any kind of equipped first responders due to sheer numbers of victims should an actual attack actually happen.

        --
        BMO

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          Um, you may want to look at what I was responding to. Soporific's question was about lab containment not about use for an attack. In the context of a lab where the concern is spreading from lab animals the hemorrhagic (spelling varies depending on which side of the pond you are on) is not that bad because the environment is well contained.
          • by bmo (77928)

            Oh, well, nevermind then. I've been in a thread about weaponization and got confused.

            --
            BMO

          • by MickLinux (579158)

            Lab safety measures are violated all the time at US biohazard research universities. The people involved are extremely callous about safety, compared to what they nominally ought to be.

            As a result, every so often, you do get a researcher who dies.

            It is bad enough that my brother, who makes predictions each new year (and the year of Katrina, predicted that a hurricane would wipe out a major US city) predicted about 1 1/2 years ago that a weaponized disease would break out at a major US university -- and wou

    • Re:Monkeys (Score:5, Informative)

      by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:27PM (#40330489)

      Ebola research, at least in the US and Europe, can *only* be performed at Biosafety Level 4 labs - literally the highest there is.

      The labs are fully isolated. Any air or water going in or out will be subjected to enough UV light to kill any virus, followed by extreme heat and powerful chemicals. The lab areas are kept at a lower atmospheric pressure, so if there *is* a leak, air flows in, not out.

      Humans going in require multiple chemical showers, going through several airlocks including a vacuum chamber, and wearing a full positive-pressure suit with an *isolated* air supply, not filtered. And even then, all work is done inside Class II or III biosafety cabinets (the boxes with gloves in them).

      There are less than fifty active BSL-4 labs in the entire planet, and only fifteen in the United States. These are specifically designed for the worst of the worst - Smallpox, Ebola, Lassa, and the like.

      In the United States, BSL-4 labs that contain potential biological weapons, such as the smallpox lab, are guarded by the US Army. I believe Ebola is one of those diseases.

      Trust me. They know how to keep diseases contained.

      • "Trust me. They know how to keep diseases contained."

        Yeah right. Every terrorist and enemy nation can find those diseases in the wild or buy them on the "free market". Even things like the bubonic plague (rodents in California and Oregon) and Nile fever can be found in the USA in the wild. Powder letters with Anthrax have been sent by terrorists after 9/11 and the world has seen outbreaks of several deadly diseases like bird flu the last 10 years. Ebola and Lassa roam free in Africa and are only contained
        • by gman003 (1693318)

          Bubonic plague really isn't weaponizeable - it's transmitted by *fleas*, and curable with modern antibiotics. West Nile also wouldn't work well as a weapon - almost all infections are asymptomatic. You could have it right now and not know. Of those who do develop symptoms, most suffer only a pretty bad flu - it's only in the 1% of cases where it enters the brain that it's really dangerous.

          The anthrax letters? They were sent by an anthrax researcher who feared his job was about to be lost.

          Ebola, Lassa and De

      • Trust me. They know how to keep diseases contained.

        Except when craven, arrogant, ignorant politicians overule the smart people and move an animal disease center from an isolated island to the edge of a large university campus - in eyesight of the stadium, coliseum, rec center, *and* the vet/med emergency room. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bio_and_Agro-Defense_Facility [wikipedia.org]

        WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

      • by manaway (53637)

        This comment:

        Trust me. They know how to keep diseases contained.

        is at odds with this comment [slashdot.org]:

        There's even a new strain which broke out in a medical research facility in Reston, VA in 1998 which was contagious only to monkeys.

  • Not exactly 90%.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:01PM (#40330275)
    That "kills up to 90% of infected people" comment is something of an exaggeration. From reading Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone", I recall that the dominant families of Ebola virus are the Sudan strain(s) and the Zaire strain(s). The Zaire strain will really fuck you up; that's the one which kills up to 90%. The Sudan strain is much less dangerous (statistically speaking), and kills something like 40-50%. There's even a new strain which broke out in a medical research facility in Reston, VA in 1998 which was contagious only to monkeys.

    It sounds pedantic and insensitive to point out that some strains kill only 50% when even that number is horrific, and sounds totally incidental to mention a non-lethal strain, but actually the Reston and Sudan strains are more concerning in many ways than the extremely lethal Zaire varieties.

    Extremely contagious, quick, and deadly diseases like Ebola Zaire often go too quickly for their own good. They can kill everyone so fast that even if the victims travel or meet an ignorant medical response, outbreaks wind up limiting themselves because the incubation isn't really that long and you certainly aren't moving around to spread the disease anymore once you're dead. Several times major outbreaks in African villages burnt themselves out with only the most rudimentary quarantine measures, and there were some major scares when people with Zaire strain took international plane rides that should have lead to global devastation if the disease were really that efficient in spreading. (It is astonishingly contagious in certain circumstances and certain phases of infection, but its contagiousness to people in the immediate area is only correlated to it's potential global virulence, not explicitly and solely causal to said potential.)

    On the other hand, diseases like Sudan and Reston Ebola might become much worse health threats than the exceptionally deadly types of Ebola. Something like Ebola Sudan, which kills slower and kills relatively fewer people, could travel much farther and wider than the Zaire types. There could be longer periods in which people are shedding virus while they're still largely pre-symptomatic, longer periods of disease and recovery where they're extremely contagious but still require medical care and community to some degree, etc. I don't recall whether it applies to Hemorrhagic fevers, but there are also viruses people carry and periodically shed for life, as well, like herpes viruses. So a disease that kills a smaller percentage and presents less quickly/dramatically can be far more dangerous than the quicker, more brutal members of its pathogenic family

    Along the same lines, the Reston variety of Ebola could be the freakiest of all, given some bad cosmic luck. Something very closely related to a lethal human illness can spread in birds, monkeys, pigs, etc. until it's downright common, and then suddenly re-develop the qualities to infect and kill humans. Now you have something which can be unpredictably spread by a population of carriers which can't be quarantined or predicted even half as well as you could manage human beings. That's why they follow the development of flu strains in birds, pigs, monkeys, and ruminants every year; you never know when something will show up that could make the Spanish flu look like a weekend with the sniffles.

    So in summary, the headline makes Hemorrhagic fevers look worse than they really are (although even the 'nicest' ones are fucking terrifying), and it's actually the gentler varieties that are most likely to fuck up humanity one day.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Of course if you were researching a bio-weapon you can get an "all of the above" virus and ground zero could be the departure hall of a major international airport instead of some remote village in Nowhere, Africa. Who'd like to try "basic quarantine measures" on cities with millions of people? Not to mention all the commuters and such we didn't have during the Spanish Flu, chances are good your quarantine is broken even before you can even set it. That's really the scary thing about a bioweapon, you can bo

      • A gun is a very good weapon because you can, with practice, chose the person you want killed. A virus is not a weapon, but instead a Doomsday device. If a nation decided it wanted to attack America by deploying the bio-weapon in JFK, they will kill their own country too, as the virus spreads back home. They could try to close their borders, but something WILL get through, especially a retaliatory strike. Even if you defended yourself, you would kill or doom the rest of the world.

        No, if you are creating a vi

    • Extremely contagious, quick, and deadly diseases like Ebola Zaire often go too quickly for their own good. They can kill everyone so fast...

      I don't understand how such deadly diseases can evolve... kill everything, including itself, and then outbreaks can reoccur once this has happened.

      While fascinating, I find biology far too complicated to ever get my head around completely because it seems too difficult to reduce to the simpler underlying systems, like one can get away with only knowing a few trigonometry equations and derive the rest from those when needed. There is far too much information for me to memorize it all. I am thankful that th

      • Extremely contagious, quick, and deadly diseases like Ebola Zaire often go too quickly for their own good. They can kill everyone so fast...

        I don't understand how such deadly diseases can evolve... kill everything, including itself, and then outbreaks can reoccur once this has happened.

        I'm skipping over a lot of material here, but diseases that infect within a species tend to get less virulent over time because they spread more that way, like colds. The ideal within-species disease would be unnoticeable because then you'd go wandering around spreading it everywhere. It's likely thousands of these exist and we've never bothered to discover them.

        Diseases between species are different. Diseases that need two species to complete their lifestyle, like malaria, want you as nearly dead as pos

    • by eris0xff (1871826)
      I've been following Ebola for a while now. Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" covers a number of attempts, expeditions by CDC and USAMRIID to track down the source of Ebola -- to no avail at the time of publication. However since it's publication the following has occurred:
      1. Scientists have found where Ebola lurks -- almost exclusively in fruit bats. As man has traveled and settled further and further up the Ebola river region he has come in contact with the life cycle of the Ebola virus in these bats.
  • Oh, and I guess humans, too.

  • Doesn't this make it easier to Weaponize Ebola? You'd be pretty stupid to release ebola on your enemy if you weren't sure your own population wouldn't get infected. But if there's a cure, you can mass produce it for your own people and unleash the virus on your enemies...
  • by PJ6 (1151747)
    Now I don't have to worry about my monkey getting Ebola any more.

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