Further observations regarding the Ebola virus are that people who die with Ebola disease can still transmit Ebola disease when other people come into direct contact with the body fluids or blood of the person who died. Breastfeeding must also be watched out as a means of transmitting the Ebola virus, as well as intimate relationships, so it takes up to 3 months of recovery from a positive result to recover, this is because the Ebola virus can still infect through sperm for 3 months from the recovery of Ebola patients.
The deadly Ebola virus
A new study finds the Ebola virus that causes a widespread outbreak in the West African country is not mutating as fast as previously reported. The findings help dispel fears that the virus could turn into a more infectious or deadly form.
In the study published online in the journal Science, researchers compared virus samples from people in Africa who were infected with Ebola for up to nine months. They found that the viruses’ genetic sequences were nearly the same, meaning that the viruses had undergone relatively few mutations or genetic sequence changes during that time period.
Even the researchers said they saw no evidence that the virus mutated any faster than had been reported in previous outbreaks. The new results are good news, experts say. In a 2014 study published in the journal Science, researchers have suggested that the Ebola virus in epidemic West Africa mutates twice as fast as other Ebola virus strains. In the study, researchers compared virus samples taken from people who were infected just three months apart, a relatively short period of time.
Even the findings surprised the researchers. Even in the new study, the researchers compared virus samples collected from infected patients in Guinea in March 2014, Sierra Leone in June 2014 and Mali in November 2014. The researchers found that samples from March and November is different. None of the mutations the researchers observed in the study would increase the severity or change the transmissibility of Ebola.
Researchers have studied the mutation rate of Ebola in that some types of viruses are RNA viruses, which means they use RNA, not DNA, for genetic material. RNA viruses generally have a higher mutation rate than DNA viruses. Therefore, they spread so rapidly and are deadly that even now there has been no drug or vaccine against Ebola virus.
Ebola vaccine development continues
A vaccine against the Ebola virus is urgently needed, and several companies are racing to test their experimental vaccine in a bid to stop the spread of the deadly viral disease. Ebola has disgusted more than 20,000 people in West Africa, and killed at least 8,200 according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Experts estimate that at least 100,000 doses of vaccine are needed to protect frontline healthcare workers. According to WHO and at least 12 million doses will be needed to vaccinate all adults in the three worst affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
At the moment, there are three experimental vaccines that look promising, which are licensed to major pharmaceutical companies, and are now being tested in humans at a fraction of the time.
Here is a look at each Ebola vaccine:
Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine
This vaccine contains a modified version of the human flu virus and the smallpox virus. It also contains pieces of Ebola genetic material that could trigger an immune reaction against the Ebola virus. In January, Johnson & Johnson said it had begun administering the vaccine to healthy volunteers in the UK. This is a Phase 1 clinical trial, meaning that researchers will test the vaccine in a small number of people to see if it is safe, and to identify potential side effects.
Seventy-two people will participate in this trial, and will receive either the vaccine or placebo, the company said. This vaccine involves two shots of the first dose of the vaccine aimed at prime the immune system, while the second dose given one or two months later acts to increase the immune response.
In a previous vaccine trial conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers found that the monkeys were vaccine-protected against a strain of Ebola known as Zaire, which caused the current outbreak, the company said in September.
Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, is developing a vaccine with Bavarian Nordic. More than 400,000 vaccine regimens have been produced that could be used in a larger trial in April.
Another Ebola vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is further in development. Results of the Phase 1 vaccine trial were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in November, and the research shows that the vaccine, the company developed in collaboration with the NIH, was well tolerated and appeared effective.
In the trial, 20 healthy adult volunteers in the United States received the vaccine, and they produced antibodies against the Ebola virus. Now, Glaxo is planning to test a vaccine in larger numbers of people, and the second phase of the trial could begin in February in Africa, according to Reuters. Even the Ebola vaccine, called cAd3-EBO, is made of a dangerous cold virus that affects chimpanzees, but is coated with proteins from two strains of the Ebola virus, the Zaire strain and the Sudanese strain.
The Merck Vaccine
Stage 1 Merck Ebola vaccine testing is now back on its feet after reaching a bump in the road. Researchers started a Phase 1 vaccine trial, called VSV-ZEBOV, in December, but then stopped the trial when some volunteers reported experiencing joint pain.
The symptoms, however, resolve without treatment, according to the University of Geneva hospital in Switzerland, where the trial is taking place. Researchers are returning to the trial using a lower dose of the vaccine, the hospital announced Jan. 5.
The VSV-ZEBOV consists of a virus that mainly infects animals, which is called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). In this vaccine according to the NIH, one gene from VSV has been replaced with a gene encoding a protein outside the Ebola Zaire virus.