Ebola Outbreak

Joan Slonczewski addresses a problem I, too, found disturbingly un-news-worthy in the eyes of the media…


While the world hyperventilates over the future British royal starting to crawl, the largest Ebola outbreak ever has his West Africa. Over a hundred deaths, with more than two-thirds mortality from this rapid killer. The virus hit Guinea and Liberia, including Guinea’s major city of Guekedou. Usually the virus comes from “bushmeat,” local primates and bats people eat for food. In The Highest Frontier, I imagined Ebola virions printing out from 3D printers.

What is Ebola virus; and how does it turn the body into blood pudding?

The virus particle consists of a coiled RNA molecule (not DNA, but RNA, which we usually know as a cellular copy of DNA). But many deadly viruses have RNA genomes. The Ebola virus particle fuses with the membrane of a host cell, such as a monocyte (a white blood cell). Then the viral RNA uses host ribosomes to make proteins that trick…

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