Over the past ten years, separate outbreaks of the deadly Zaire strain of Ebola virus (ZEBOV) have killed hundreds of humans and tens of thousands of great apes in Gabon and the Republic of Congo--which harbor roughly 80% of the last remaining wild gorilla and chimpanzee populations. In a new study, Peter Walsh, Roman Biek, and Leslie Real combined genetic data with information on the timing and location of past ZEBOV outbreaks to support the hypothesis that a "consistently moving wave of ZEBOV infection" recently spread to outbreak sites in Gabon and Congo.
Repeated outbreaks of the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus (Ebola virions pictured above) in central Africa were caused by a recent spread of the virus, rather than by a long-persistent strain at each site. (Photo: Walsh et al.)
In the prevailing view, ZEBOV arose from long-persistent local strains after increased contact between humans or great apes and an unidentified reservoir host. But Walsh et al. found support for the alternative hypothesis: that ZEBOV had recently spread to the outbreak regions. This is good news because a virus that spreads at a predictable rate in a predictable direction is far easier to control than one that emerges by chance or at the hands of an unknown trigger. The authors modeled the viruss spread based on assumptions of a long-persistent virus versus a recently emerged virus, and tested the predictions of these competing hypotheses using genetic data--gathered from gene sequences taken from human samples at the different outbreak sites--and information on the spatiotemporal dynamics of the outbreaks.
Though the strength of the individual lines of evidence is not conclusive when considered separately, taken together, they support the view that ZEBOV is spreading as a wave from the first epidemic in Yambuku, Gabon. Following its current course, ZEBOV may hit populated areas east of Odzala National Park within 1–2 years and reach most parks containing large populations of western gorillas in 3–6 years. Two Ebola outbreaks have already hit human populations west of Odzala, and over the past two years, the largest gorilla and chimp populations in the world, found in Odzala, have been devastated--the disease is spreading to the last unaffected sector of the park right now. These findings suggest that strategies to protect villagers and some of the last remaining wild apes from future outbreaks would do best to concentrate efforts at the front of the advancing wave--and start acting now.
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22.11.2017 | Columbia University
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
22.11.2017 | Business and Finance
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy