reply to post by DexterRiley
I don't have the link handy, but I recall that there are a series of tests that look for certain enzymes and DNA fragments in the sample. And
there is a lab in the Ugandan capital maintained by WHO/CDC specifically for the purpose of monitoring and testing Ebola. But, as you say, I don't
know how long it takes to get the results. On the other hand, I recall that the negative results from Kenya came in rather quickly.
Thanks for the reply. Heres the thing as I understand it. I am sort of quoting portions of the book "The Hot Zone" and other times I am working from
memory as I can't find the part in the book.
Ebola is from a family of viruses known as the "filoviruses". Marburg was the first filovirus to be discovered. The word Filovirus is Latin and
means "thread virus". The filoviruses look alike, as if they are sisters, and they resemble no other virus on earth. While most viruses are
ball-shaped particles that look like peppercorns, the thread viruses have been compared to strands of tangled rope, to hair, to worms, to snakes. When
they appear in a great flooding mess, as they so often do when they have destroyed a victim, they look like a tub of spaghetti that has been dumped on
My quote from the book on pg. 37.
There are other Ebola type viruses like Zaire and Sudan. Zaire is the 90% kill ratio and the most deadly of all the filoviruses. It is a "slate
wiper". All of these appear similar to each other and are hard to differentiate. They are also extremely small. From somewhere in the book I recall
that a 100,000 individual virus particles can fit on the period at the end of this sentence.
So you can't just accept a sample of the virus in a test tube and identify it without first isolating it from the rest of the goo in the sample,
culture it (to get a large enough sample to test), and then compare it under strict conditions to other "known" samples or, using other tests that
use chemicals to make the virus glow certain colors in the dark under a microscope. This employs a control and positive / negative result that is a
quick identifier of particular strains. But you need those known samples and a carefully controlled laboratory setting to guarantee the outcome.
The culture part of the identifying process is the longest part. The knowns are that freezer in the basement of the CDC and the controls are
(hopefully) done correctly so as not to cross contaminate the whole process and return false results.
Each of the potential cases has to go thru this process in order to determine if they have contracted the virus or not. From what I understand it
takes 7 days for the headache (the first symptom) to appear.
If they can employ electron microscopes that may obtain a picture of the beast like this:
But still doesn't differentiate between types of filovirus. The link below talks about the kind of testing they use to determine whether its ebola in
the field. Near the bottom under "Diagnosis".