Since the 1970s, researchers have worked diligently to gather data from every Ebola outbreak. Recently, British researchers compiled this data and used computer progams to analyze the genetic changes in the virus. Their findings? The Ebola virus has evolved.

Viruses change and evolve all the time, so it’s not surprising that the Ebola virus has evolved over the last 40 years. The good news? Although researchers have documented genetic changes, it doesn’t look like the Ebola virus has become more dangerous.

The most recent Ebola outbreak has claimed over 10,500 lives at last count. While it doesn’t seem that there is any good news in that large number, this new research suggests that the higher number of fatalities isn’t due to a more dangerous virus.

So what does this mean for us? Understanding these numbers is important in the quest to control and eradicate Ebola. Researchers can now look at other possible causes for such a high death toll, and focus their efforts on whatever may be the most important factor in the current disease outbreak. Understanding of the genetic changes within the virus can also help guide animal research studies, which have already proven to be essential in the development of an Ebola vaccine.

Read more about this research here.

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