Patient Zero: Ebola

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Module 2 Reading 2
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Ebola virus is a zoonotic virus, that is, a virus that normally resides in animals but can infect humans and cause disease. The spread of Ebola from animal to human in earlier outbreaks had been traced to hunters who captured and prepared fruit bats for food. But patient zero in the most recent 2014 epidemic of Ebola was believed to be a 2-year old boy living in a small village in Guinea. The toddler may have played near a tree infested with a species of bats believed to be reservoirs of the Ebola virus. Researchers are still unclear how the boy got infected. What is clear is the path the outbreak took once the virus had jumped from animal to human. Figure 2.1 shows how the virus moved from the 2-yearold boy and began its treacherous pathway of infection that resulted in 11,000 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

patient zero ebola

Figure 2.1 Pathway of Ebola infection from patient zero. From

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