Rome (Fides Service) – Although they might appear to be part of one epidemic spreading rapidly among humans and wild animals, recent cases of Ebola in central Africa are in fact multiple epidemics caused by various viral strains appearing simultaneously when they find ideal conditions.
In the past scientists thought the virus originated from one epicentre and spread rapidly as animals moved in the forest. Humans contract the disease by touching or eating infected meat. Ebola causes haemorrhaging and fever and is almost always lethal, leading to death in only a few days.
“Now - says veterinary William Karesh of the US based Wildlife Conservation Society the organisation engaged in the research, we know that rather than spreading, the virus originates from various different sources in the forest”.
Scientists found that an epidemic of Ebola between September 2001 and May 2003 consisted of eight viral strains originating from different regions. The cause of simultaneous epidemics is still unknown, as well as the natural carriers which spread the virus.
(AP) (Fides Service 21/1/2004; lines:19 words:185)