Friday, November 6, 2009

Ebola-like virus found among troops in Afghanistan

The Washington Times, in an exclusive story written by Sara Carter, reports that an American soldier has died in southern Afghanistan from infection with an Ebola-like virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. It may have been transmitted by a tick (as an arbovirus) and probably is transmitted among people only by blood or body fluid contact. The link for the story is here. All of this reminds me of a couple of major books in the 1990s that dealt with Marburg and Ebola: Richard Preston: The Hot Zone (1994); Laurie Garrett: Coming Plague: Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (1994). Preston maintains that we barely missed a pandemic from one strain that might bave been more contagious, Ebola Reston.

The relative transmissibility of infectious disease is always controversial and tends to be confusing to the public. In the 1980s the CDC and NIH had to work hard to convince the general public that HIV is not casually transmitted. But it has to turn an about face with H1N1 and H5N1. Ebola seems to be somewhere in the middle but it is even more dangerous.

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