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Ebola continues to shift, but grows no more fatal

Studies reveal four genetic lineages in outbreak

12:00pm, June 18, 2015
Ebola map

VIRAL VARIABILITY  As Ebola spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone and Liberia, the virus evolved, but didn’t become deadlier. Regions in darker shades indicate a greater number of infections.  

Ebola is evolving, but not becoming deadlier.   

As it spread internationally in the West African outbreak, the virus changed, but did not become more contagious or lethal, studies published online June 17 in Nature and in the June 18 Cell suggest.

Researchers analyzed the genetic blueprints of Ebola viruses in hundreds of blood samples from infected patients, comparing these data with each other and previously published Ebola genomes. This work revealed how the virus traveled and changed biologically in the first long-term Ebola epidemic on record. The findings may help inform future vaccine development and public health responses.

As the epidemic progressed, Ebola split into at least four genetic lineages. Mapping these lineages over time, the researchers confirmed that Ebola initially spread from

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