New Ebola virus strain strikes West Africa

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

UNICEF Ebola
Ebola broke out in the nation of Guinea, and it may take 4 months to contain.

A deadly virus known as Ebola broke out in the African nation of Guinea, and has already killed dozens of people. According to researchers, the disease did not spread from a different African country as previously thought – rather, it’s a new version of the virus. The scientists are hard at work locating the strain’s origin, to gain a better understanding of how it can be cured.

Humans contract Ebola by coming into close contact with the bodily fluids of animals or other humans. Once an individual has caught the virus, they experience devastating symptoms such as: hot fever, severe weakness, muscle pain, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, rashes, kidney failure, liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.

These are pretty deadly conditions, and the virus has a fatality rate of up to 90%. To make matters worse, there is no cure or treatment for the virus, so infected individuals are usually isolated from the rest of the population to prevent further contamination.

Ebola was first introduced to humans in 1976 when outbreaks occurred in two African countries. This fact led researchers to believe the current wave in Guinea originated from one of these regions, but after running a series of lab tests, they determined it was a completely new strain. Now the scientists believe this version has been wreaking havoc behind the curtain for some time now, but is finally coming out of the shadows.

According to the World Health Organization, this is one of the hardest outbreaks they’ve ever had to face and could take up to 4 months to contain. In the meantime, scientists are on the brink of creating a vaccine (medicine that improves immunity to the disease), but it’ll be several years before one becomes available.

Images courtesy of UNICEF Guinea on Flickr.