Important Ebola Research Underway In Montana

Jul 30, 2014

An important part of the global effort to develop a vaccine for the deadly Ebola virus is taking place at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in western Montana's Bitterroot Valley.

A specific strain of Ebola has so far killed over 670 people in West Africa.

Ebola Virions
Credit Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa. PLoS Biol 3/11/2005: e403 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403 (CC-BY-2.5)

Death by Ebola is a terrible fate that starts with unremarkable symptoms; fever, sore throat, chills and muscle aches.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, however, it can eventually progress to rampant bleeding, diarrhea, mental confusion, multiple organ failure, then a shock syndrome which usually leads to death.     

The Ebola outbreak unfolding in Africa is described as the largest in history and is raising concerns about international travel and global pandemic.

Dr. Heinz Feldmann is Chief of the Laboratory of Virology at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton.  

Feldmann says the medical community must always be cautious and prepared to deal with serious illnesses. But he adds there's little need to worry about someone infected with Ebola entering our country:  
"Our health care system is so sophisticated in these basic rules that we are much better off than any of these hospitals in developing countries. So, if a patient would come in with an unknown illness - particularly if it's an infectious - or the cause is most likely infectious - there won't be any nurse in this country that's not going to put gloves on and is not going to put some protection on because we have it available, because we...have to follow protocols. And these basic measurements will prevent an outbreak."
More with Dr. Feldmann on the Ebola virus later this week on Montana Evening Edition.