Edmond native Joshua Ward was only 8 when “Outbreak” came out, but he still remembers the impact that the movie and other films like it had on him.
Although made for entertainment, films like “Outbreak,” a 1995 thriller about a virus with a 100 percent mortality rate, shed light on a world of pathogens and their nonhuman primate hosts, Ward said.
Ward, the director of scholar development and undergraduate research at Oklahoma State University, answered a few questions about the evolving Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Ward’s published research extends from non-human primate genetics to human disease. He is a former research fellow at Harvard Medical School’s New England primate research center and former member of the primate immunogenetics and molecular ecology research group at the University of Cambridge.
Q: How much do scientists understand about Ebola?
A: Since first discovered in Africa in 1976, scientists have uncovered much about the virus, but the development of a specific treatment or vaccine remains elusive. Pinpointing the definitive reservoir of the virus, or natural host, has also been difficult.
Q: How does a person become infected by Ebola? Can it be spread person to person?
A: Ebola is first transmitted to humans through contact with bodily fluids of infected animals such as nonhuman primates and fruit bats. Ebola then spreads amongst humans through contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, causing vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and finally internal and external bleeding. It kills up to 50 percent to 90 percent of those infected.
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