So i'm looking into the ebola crisis and it seems the death toll is really getting crazy. I understand that it's a cytomegalovirus and that it basically overwhelms the immune system due to it's size and virulence but why is it so bad now? What has changed about it?

The folks at the Dallas hospital were said to have 'broken protocol' but to me it seems the virus may be more infectious this time around. Has it changed? Mutated?

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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by " that it's a cytomegalovirus"? CMV is a herpes virus, while Ebola is a filovirus. CMV is also a double-stranded DNA virus, while Ebola is a single-stranded RNA virus. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Oct 15, 2014 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ What did the Ebola say to Cytomegalovirus? No mono! $\endgroup$
    – Tivie
    Oct 15, 2014 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ I think what makes this outbreak so different from previous outbreaks is that it hit large cities. Previous outbreaks hit small villages, where it couldn't spread far and burned out fairly quickly. In dense urban areas there are plenty of people to spread to and easy access to transportation. $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Oct 15, 2014 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ republicans, specifically George Bush $\endgroup$
    – rhill45
    Oct 16, 2014 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think mutations are relevant in this case. It is very similar to previous strains. The main difference that it was recognized too late. $\endgroup$
    – inf3rno
    Oct 16, 2014 at 4:29

1 Answer 1


The answer here lies in epidemiology and the pathogenic nature of the virus. Humans infected with Ebola have a range of recovery rates of 5-75%, meaning that most of those infected will not survive infection. Given the combination of preparedness factors at first recognizing a true outbreak in Ebola and viral load which had already been spread by the point healthcare workers have organized an efficient response, it is not surprising that some outbreaks are worse than others. I think attempting to correlate the virulence to the type, size with the extent of the viral spread is not pertinent, but rather, as you mentioned breaking "protocol" can have more deleterious effect than simply explaining it by a mutation.

That is not to say that this strain of Ebola is not different from those detected in other outbreaks--in fact it is likely to be quite different and accumulated several mutations.


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