Attrition: U.S. Army Cures Ebola Killer Virus


June 7, 2010:  A U.S. Army research lab has developed a cure for the Ebola virus. This disease, endemic to parts of Central Africa, kills up to 90 percent of those who catch it (because of internal bleeding from infected organs). The new vaccine has one catch, however, the victim must get the injection within 30 minutes of being infected. Despite that limitation, the cure will be produced and stocked to protect people working in labs that contain Ebola virus samples. Research on an Ebola cure is also underway in other nations, and occasionally a lab worker catches Ebola.

In the wild, there is not a lot of Ebola going around, because the virus kills its hosts so quickly. But if something like Ebola got loose in a densely populated urban area, the death toll would be very high. Thus, although the United States shut down all work on biological weapons in 1969, the Department of Defense still maintains research efforts to develop cures for diseases known to be prime candidates for being turned into weapons. At the same time, this research makes it easier to develop cures for these diseases, which often only afflict small populations in remote areas. While the new Ebola virus is limited to lab use, the way it works (messing with the virus's reproductive ability) provides a jumping off point for a more widely useful Ebola cure.






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