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article imageEbola: patient zero identified

By Tim Sandle     Nov 1, 2014 in Science
Biologists have pinpointed the source of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Patient zero was probably a 2-year-old boy who died in southern Guinea.
According to a report issued by the United Nations, the trigger point for the current Ebola crisis was Emile Ouamouno. Ouamouno was a 2-year-old who lived in the small village of Meliandou in southern Guinea. Data suggests that he was the first person to be infected with Ebola in relation to the the current outbreak.
The finding is based on an analysis of blood samples collected last March. The samples were sent to laboratories in France and Germany for analysis. The findings have now been published in The New England Journal of Medicine ("Emergence of Zaire Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea.")
Put the laboratory test results together with anecdotal evidence produces the following tale: on December 2, 2013, Emile fell ill with a fever, black stool, and vomiting. He died just four days later, and within a month, his older sister, mother, and grandmother all contracted the disease and died. This sequences of events was relayed by Etienne Ouamouno, Emile’s farther, who survived. It then appears that Ebola spread beyond the village following Emile’s grandmonther’s funeral, which several people attended.
Although "patient zero" has been tracked down, it remains unclear how Emile first contracted the deadly virus. Scientists think that the virus was contracted from an animal. In the village where Emile and his family lived, goats and chickens commonly roam free. Emile’s hometown of Meliandou lost 14 residents within four months of his death, though the village is now Ebola-free.
In related news, a new science report weighs up how readily disease transmission can occur. The report argues strong for an isolation policy for all people who have been in contacted with Ebola sufferers.
More about Ebola, patient zero, Guinea, Bats, Bushmeat
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