The Ebola virus has killed some 1,300 people in Central Africa over the last 30 years. In most of these cases where it has been possible to trace the source of the outbreak, it has been associated with the consumption of contaminated apes or antelopes. But very little has been known about contagion in natural populations.
In the present study an international research team, including a group from Uppsala University in Sweden, has tracked two outbreaks and followed their spread among a gorilla population in Lossi Reservation in the Republic of Congo. The gorilla populations have been monitored by some of the scientists since 1995. As a result of this, 17 gorilla groups with a total of 238 individuals have grown accustomed to the presence of humans. However, two outbreaks of Ebola virus, one between October 2002 and January 2003 and the other between October 2003 and January 2004, led to the death of 221 of them (93%). To examine whether this high mortality rate also affected the area outside the reservation, the researchers carried out a study of a larger area (2,700km2) and found that 96 percent of the gorillas had disappeared. A total of 5,000 gorillas are estimated to have died from Ebola.
“These figures unfortunately represent merely a portion of the area that the virus has infected, and gorillas are continuing to die in this region,” says Carles Vilà.
Careful monitoring has revealed that the transmission between gorilla groups has probably played a key role in the spread of the disease. This also means that the researchers reject the possibility that the outbreaks were the result of a massive transmission of the virus from a reservoir (e.g. mosquitoes or bats). An important conclusion of the study is therefore that vaccinating the as yet unaffected gorillas may be a key measure to stop the spread of Ebola among gorillas.
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Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
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.
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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....
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