Ebola May Be Much Older Than We Thought

Ebola has claimed over 10,000 lives in West Africa, and fortunately, precautionary measures for health care workers returning to the U.S. from this region of the world have prevented it from spreading in the United States beyond a comparative few. About 40 percent of the people who contracted this infectious disease in this latest outbreak in 2014 died, which makes it extremely deadly by any standards. Of course, the health care and medical infrastructure available in a given area greatly affect disease outcomes, and poor African nations are not known for good public health facilities. The first outbreak of Ebola was thought to have happened in Zaire in 1976. A professor of history and infectious diseases, however, thinks the first outbreak may have occurred much earlier; over 2,000 years earlier.

Scientists do know that the Ebola virus itself is very old. It has been in mice and some rats for possibly millions of years. Brian Bonar finds this pretty interesting overall after checking out Whitepages.com. The only question is when it may have jumped species over to humans. There was a terrible plague in ancient Athens, Greece, which was written about by the Greek historian Thucydides. It occurred in 430 B.C. and the symptoms, which were described rather vividly by Thucydides, sound very much like a modern Ebola outbreak. Skeptics point out that there are other diseases that it may have been but it is interesting to wonder if this disease of our modern world is not so modern after all.

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