Monday, June 08, 2015

EBOLA - Cracking the Genetic Code

"To crack Ebola’s code, scientists search for elusive animal host" PBS NewsHour 6/4/2015


SUMMARY:  The deadly Ebola virus normally spreads among animals but occasionally spills over to humans, to dire effect.  To understand how such diseases make that jump, scientists must find the animal host.  But the hunt for live samples of Ebola in animals has never turned up a smoking gun.  Science correspondent Miles O’Brien follows epidemiologists in Sierra Leone on their hunt for deadly diseases.

LINA MOSES, Tulane University:  Kenema became the epicenter of the outbreak in July.

MILES O’BRIEN (NewsHour):  Lina Moses is back at it, on the trail of a killer virus near Kenema, Sierra Leone.  She is still haunted by memories of the worst days of the Ebola epidemic last year.

LINA MOSES:  We didn’t go searching for Ebola.  Ebola came to us.  It came with a vengeance.

MILES O’BRIEN:  She took us to the remote villages of Kpalu.

LINA MOSES:  This is the first time we have trapped for a while since the Ebola outbreak started.

MILES O’BRIEN:  An epidemiologist and disease ecologist with Tulane University’s Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Program, Lina leads a team focused primarily on a virus with Ebola-like symptoms, Lassa fever.  Lassa and Ebola are so-called zoonotic diseases caused by viruses, parasites or bacteria that are normally spread among animals, but occasionally spill over to humans, often causing severe disease.

Understanding how these viruses make the jump into humans is at the core of her research.

LINA MOSES:  Any time you’re looking at zoonotic disease, you have to start looking at the animal that carries it, the animal that maintains it in nature, and that’s the only way you can start to control it.

"Why isn’t there a better test to detect Ebola?" PBS NewsHour 6/5/2015


SUMMARY:  In Sierra Leone, health care workers use infrared thermometers to monitor those who may have come in contact with Ebola.  It takes 21 days before they can be deemed virus-free.  That’s why researchers are trying to create more precise infection detection.  In the second in the series, science correspondent Miles O’Brien looks at the efforts to create faster, more reliable testing for the virus.

No comments: