Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 30th 2015 Contents A32
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, January 30, 2015
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SECRETARY TO THE BOARD
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and other provisions governing or affecting the operation of the entity
are observed and to provide secretarial support to the Board and Sub-
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in the jurisdiction of Trinidad and Tobago in the areas of
Advocacy, Contracts, Commercial Matters, Civil and Criminal
o A minimum of two (2) years experience in a Corporate Secretarial
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Scientists tracking the Ebola outbreak in Guinea
say the virus has mutated.
Researchers at the Institut Pasteur in France, which
first identified the outbreak last March, are inves-
tigating whether it could have become more conta-
More than 22,000 people have been infected with
Ebola and 8,795 have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone
Scientists are starting to analyse hundreds of blood
samples from Ebola patients in Guinea.
They are tracking how the virus is changing and
trying to establish whether it s able to jump more
easily from person to person.
"We know the virus is changing quite a lot," said
human geneticist Dr Anavaj Sakuntabhai.
"That s important for diagnosing (new cases) and
for treatment. We need to know how the virus (is
changing) to keep up with our enemy."
It s not unusual for viruses to change over a period
time. Ebola is an RNA virus---like HIV and influen-
sa---which have a high rate of mutation. That makes
the virus more able to adapt and raises the potential
for it to become more contagious.
"We ve now seen several cases that don t have any
symptoms at all, asymptomatic cases," said Anavaj
"These people may be the people who can spread
the virus better, but we still don t know that yet. A
virus can change itself to less deadly, but more con-
tagious and that s something we are afraid of."
But Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University
of Nottingham, says it s still unclear whether more
people are actually not showing symptoms in this
outbreak compared with previous ones.
"We know asymptomatic infections occur...but
whether we are seeing more of it in the current out-
break is difficult to ascertain," he said.
"It could simply be a numbers game, that the more
infection there is out in the wider population, then
obviously the more asymptomatic infections we are
going to see."
Another common concern is that while the virus
has more time and more "hosts" to develop in, Ebola
could mutate and eventually become airborne.
There is no evidence to suggest that is happening.
The virus is still only passed through direct contact
with infected people s body fluids.
Infectious disease expert Professor David Heyman
said, "No blood borne virus, for example HIV or
Hepatitis B, has ever shown any indication of becom-
ing airborne. The mutation would need to be major."
Virologist Noel Tordo is in the process of setting
up a new from the Institut Pasteur in the Guinea
capital Conakry. He said, "At the moment, not enough
has been done in terms of the evolution of the virus
both geographically and in the human body, so we
have to learn more.
"But something has shown that there are mutations.
For the moment the way of transmission is still the
same. You just have to avoid contact (with a sick
person). But as a scientist you can t predict it won t
change. Maybe it will."
Researchers are using a method called genetic
sequencing to track changes in the genetic make-up
of the virus. So far they have analysed around 20
blood samples from Guinea. Another 600 samples
are being sent to the labs in the coming months.
A previous similar study in Sierra Leone showed
the Ebola virus mutated considerably in the first 24
days of the outbreak, according to the World Health
It said: "This certainly does raise a lot of scientific
questions about transmissibility, response to vaccines
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Ebola virus mutating,
Hundreds of blood samples are being analysed to keep track of the Ebola virus.
and drugs, use of convalescent plasma.
"However, many gene mutations may not have
any impact on how the virus responds to drugs
or behaves in human populations."
The research in Paris will also help give scientists
a clearer insight into why some people survive
Ebola, and others don t. The survival rate of the
current outbreak is around 40 per cent.
It s hoped this will help scientists developing
vaccines to protect people against the virus. (BBC)
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