Ebola shares a closer relationship with several bird viruses than was previously thought, bolstering the case for a common ancestor and hinting that birds might carry the deadly virus, a Purdue University research team reports.
David Sanders and his research group have discovered that the outer protein shell of Ebola has a biochemical structure similar to several retroviruses carried by birds. As scientists had known previously of genetic similarity among the viruses, this discovery makes a common evolutionary origin even more likely. It also suggests that Ebola could be spread to human populations by birds as well.
"We knew these viruses were inwardly similar, and now we see their outer similarity as well," said Sanders, associate professor of biological sciences in Purdues School of Science. "While bird transmission of Ebola is by no means certain, the resemblance among all these viruses should encourage health officials to be on guard for it."
Chad Boutin | Purdue News
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