Health officials got some rare good news in the fight against Ebola this week, thanks to new research published on Thursday in the journal Science. Virologists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that the current outbreak has not given rise to an even more virulent and contagious form of the virus, despite "extensive and prolonged human-to-human transmission," the researchers note.
The Los Angeles Times reports that earlier research suggested the virus was mutating at nearly double the rate as in past outbreaks; if that were the case, it could evolve past experimental tests and vaccines in progress. But researchers genetically sequenced samples of Ebola taken from patients in October and November of 2014, and found that the virus had not significantly mutated.
"Whereas from a public health perspective, the current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa continues to be an extremely pressing emergency, it is doubtful that either virulence or transmissibility has increased," the researchers added.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 10,000 people and infected another 24,907, according to the World Health Organization.