NIH study finds Ebola outbreak due to single transmission from animal
The research team that made the discovery was led by Pardis Sabeti, a NIH Health Director's New Innovator awardee for 2009. The scientists used advanced genomic sequencing technology in their research and studied how the genetic code of Ebola is changing over time to adapt to human hosts.
"Dr. Sabeti's research shows the power of using genomic analysis to track emerging viral outbreaks," NIH Director Francis Collins said. "This ability produces valuable information that can help inform public health decisions and actions."
The researchers discovered that the strain of Ebola responsible for the current outbreak separated from a related strain found in Central Africa as early as 2004. The discovery indicated the movement of the disease from Central to West Africa over the course of a decade.
The current outbreak, which has killed more than 1,300 people so far, began with the transmission from an unspecified animal reservoir to a human in 2013, the study said.
There are currently no approved vaccines for Ebola, although several treatment candidates are currently under development.