NOVOSIBIRSK, October 7 (RIA Novosti) — The Ebola epidemic is prone to spreading in poor West African countries with little medicine, whereas industrialized states, including Russia would only face minor local outbreaks of the virus if affected, Alexander Bukreyev, professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas, said Tuesday.
"I doubt a pandemic, to be honest. But the big epidemic in Africa, in the poorest countries with low levels of health and education of the population [is possible] … In industrialized countries, in Russia, I do not think that the epidemic is going to happen. But local outbreaks may occur which I'm sure could be extinguished at the very early stages," the professor told journalists in Novosibirsk.
Bukreyev believes that the "hysteria" surrounding the Ebola virus is not unreasonable since there is currently no official cure or treatment against it.
"Yes, hysteria, but sometimes I see in the media all these fantastic conspiracy theories that do not correspond to reality. But in general hysteria is understandable. Such outbreaks of the virus did not exist before," Bukreyev said.
The professor noted that the Ebola virus rarely mutates, which allows scientists to develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs from it without fear that the virus will quickly change.
"There are already three or four projects concerning the current outbreak of the virus with a bunch of decoded genomes of Ebola. Everything indicates that it does not greatly change like HIV or hepatitis C. Each outbreak is a little different with its specific mutations, but they are not radically different viruses," Bukreyev said.
According to the professor, these findings will hopefully lead to the development of an effective experimental vaccine in the near future.
Ebola is a severe hemorrhagic virus which is plaguing West African countries including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. A separate outbreak in the Republic of Congo has also been reported. According to the World Health organization (WHO), some 3,431 people have died as a result of the current Ebola epidemic, the largest outbreak of the virus to date.
There is currently no approved cure for the virus though several countries including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, are working on vaccines against it.