Using genome sequencing, a public team health team says the source of the resurgence of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia may be a survivor of the earlier outbreak, the New York Times reports.
Researchers analyzed viral genomes from a victim of the Liberia resurgence and found that it was more similar to the viruses that had been circulating there previously than to viruses on the ongoing outbreaks neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone.
"The origin of this virus is Liberian," Stuart Nichol from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. "Based on the absence of reported cases for several months, this does push us toward thinking about a possible sexual event as an early step in this cluster of cases."
He and his colleagues note that recent work has shown that the Ebola virus can persist in parts of the body like the testes, placenta, and parts of the eye that are rather protected from the immune system. Indeed, Liberia's last confirmed case back in March was thought to be due to sexual transmission of the virus from a survivor to his girlfriend.
The Times notes that the public health team is also following up on other possible scenarios for the resurgence, including the existence unknown reservoir of the disease.