Life as an Extreme Sport

Know Your Species: SUDV vs. EBOV

Last night, it was confirmed that at least some of the hemorrhagic deaths in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo are from an ebolavirus—but it looks like it’s species Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), rather than the one ravaging Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and trying to get a foothold in Nigeria: species Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV). Technically, EBOV is the only member virus within the species Zaire ebolavirus, but let’s keep it simple. …simpler.

In other words, while the two outbreaks involve members of the same family (Filoviridae) and the same genus (Ebolavirus), they are not the same species.

It might help to think about cats.Ian Mackay uses cars, and goes into much more detail. But frankly, it’s the internet. Cats are the obvious go-to. Like these guys:

While these cats are both members of the same family (Felidae) and the same genus (Felis), their species are different. In fact, black-footed cats and the common domestic house cat look similar enough that it’s often hard to tell them apart without either being an expert or getting a genetic test.

Which is pretty much how it works with SUDV and EBOV, too.

So keep that in mind when people start sky-is-falling about Africa: there are currently two species of the genus Ebolavirus in (probable) outbreak, and there is no known link between the two. And, for what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time both SUDV and EBOV have occurred at the same time. As a matter of fact, the very first known outbreak of both overlapped.More than one person, myself included, has wondered if we might be seeing some sort of weather- or animal migration-related pattern emerging.