Virus Study May Help Doctors Detect Ebola Earlier

By: Rachael Rettner
Published: 11/12/2014 10:36 AM EST on LiveScience

Tests for Ebola virus currently cannot identify the disease until after people show symptoms, and so individuals exposed to the virus have to wait to see if they are infected. But a new study has found potential early markers of diseases similar to Ebola, suggesting it may be possible to test for these viruses much earlier.

In the study, researchers infected monkeys with either Lassa virus or Marburg virus, which is a “cousin” of Ebola virus. Like Ebola, both Lassa and Marburg can cause hemorrhagic fevers, meaning fever accompanied by damage to the blood vessels, which can result in bleeding.

To find the early signs of infection, the researchers looked for clues that the body’s immune cells were responding to the virus — rather than searching for the viruses themselves. Specifically, the scientists looked for certain patterns of gene expression (whether certain genes are “turned on” or not).

They found gene expression “signatures” that were distinct enough to distinguish Marburg virus infection from Lassa virus infection, before the animals showed any symptoms of either disease.

“It looks like there are some very early —> Read More Here


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