SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Now that Ebola has made its way to the United States, medical experts are working hard to quell fear by offering the facts we know about the virus and how it is spread.
Ebola is not airborne; it cannot be spread by casual contact, but rather requires direct contact with infected body fluids such as blood and saliva.
It is a disease that has no treatment; it has no effective drug or vaccine. Though there are some experimental treatments that have been tried in a few patients, there is still no approved therapy.
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But experts say they know how to stop its spread and virus researchers are still hoping to learn more.
KCBS In Depth host Jane McMillan speaks with Dr. Charles Chiu, who is an assistant professor of laboratory and infectious disease medicine at UCSF, about what we don’t know about Ebola.
“Although it is thought that the origin of the virus is a fruit bat, it’s still really unknown exactly really if this is the reservoir for this particular virus and it’s also unknown exactly what atom a host sort of maintains the virus in nature. Every couple of years, for instance, we’ve seen outbreaks in Central Africa and yet we don’t really know what really precipitates the outbreak? Is it really a new introduction from an animal? Is this a virus that has been circulating, perhaps, undetected for several years?” Chiu said.
“Another thing we don’t really know about this virus, is this is an RNA virus—meaning that it does a have tendency to mutate. How many different types of these Ebola viruses are out there? What is its capacity to mutate? Does it have the ability to mutate potentially into a more infectious form, a more virulent form, into a less virulent form? These are questions which sort of remain to be seen.”
Listen to the entire KCBS podcast to get all the fact about the Ebola Virus: