|[stem-ebola] Ebola 2014 is Mutating as Fast as Seasonal Flu|
Ebola 2014 is Mutating as Fast as Seasonal FluThe current Ebola 2014 virus is mutating at a similar rate to seasonal flu (Influenza A). This means the current Ebola outbreak has a very high intrinsic rate of viral mutation. The bottom line is that the Ebola virus is changing rapidly, and in the intermediate to long term (3 months to 24 months), Ebola has the potential to evolve.
We cannot predict exactly what the Ebola virus will look like in 24 months. There is an inherent stochastic randomness to viral evolution which makes predictions on future viral strains difficult, if not impossible. One basic tenet we can rely on is this: Viruses tend to maximize their infectivity (basic reproduction number) within their biological constraints (Nowak, 2006).
Analysis of the available research suggests that the Ebola 2014 virus is currently mutating at a rate 200% to 300% higher than historically observed (Gire, 2014).
Furthermore, the Ebola-2014 virus's mutation rate of 2.0 x 10−³ subs/site/year is nearly identical to Influenza A's mutation rate of 1.8 x 10−³ subs/site/year (Jenkins, 2002). This means Ebola 2014 is mutating as fast as seasonal flu.
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