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By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence

ATLANTA- The Center's for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed a diagnosis of Ebola virus infection in a Swiss researcher who had been working in central Africa.

A Swiss primate researcher working in Ivory Coast contracted a high fever and other symptoms suggestive of Ebola infection. The scientist was studying chimpanzees and became ill after dissecting one of the animals last November.

The researcher was treated in Switzerland and managed to survive the infection. Ebola infection is thought to have a 90% mortality rate. The CDC confirmed the initial diagnosis of Ebola infection made by France's most prestigious medical research center, the Pasteur Institute. The last reported case of Ebola infection occurred in a remote area of central Africa nearly 20 years ago.

Ebola virus is in the family 'Filoviridae', of the genus, 'Filovirus'. There are four known members in the family, Marburg virus and three Ebola viruses: Zaire, Sudan and Reston. All but Reston have been known to infect humans. The Ebola virus has a tropism for liver cells and macrophages. Massive destruction of the liver is a hallmark feature of Ebola virus infection. The gruesome symptoms of the disease are described in Richard Preston's bestseller, The Hot Zone.

Past cases of Ebola virus infection, all in central Africa, were associated with unhygienic hospital conditions. Previous Ebola virus outbreaks have been short-lived, owing to the virus's limited capacity for transmission. The virus seems to disappear after an epidemic peaks.

Little is known about how certain few individuals survive Ebola infection. A patient infected during an outbreak of Marburg virus infection survived after testing positive for the virus for more than a month. The limited data that is available suggests that Ebola and Marburg do not persist in the blood and appears to be self-limiting in the surviving patients.

Scientists also have no idea where Ebola lives in nature. Previous expeditions to search for the Marburg and Ebola viruses have turned up nothing. A team of researchers is reported to be en route to Ivory Coast to resume the search.

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Transmitted: 95-04-09 23:37:01 EDT

Related information in Access Excellence

Interview with Dr. Frederick Murphy, Ebola Virus Expert

Current Science Seminar on Emerging Diseases

Related information at other Web sites

Ebola Recommended Reading List, Univ of Wisconsin

An Essay on Emerging and Re-Emerging Viruses, University of Capetown, South Africa

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