Researchers call for more ebola research amid West Africa outbreak

Health experts recently used the continuing ebola virus outbreak in West Africa to call for improved research regarding the disease.

Researchers and biologists said that both identifying where the latest cases came from and developing effective drugs and vaccines are crucial to understanding and fighting ebola in the future, SciDev.Net reports.

"We do not think that this particular lineage was present in West Africa about a decade ago," Gytis Dudas, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh, said, according to SciDev.Net.

Researchers said the same lineage of ebola that struck Guinea previously hit Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, SciDev.Net reports.

Experts also said the development of ebola treatments is critical to prevent an outbreak in an urban area.

"The spread of Ebola in a crowded modern mega-city, where the number of cases could balloon beyond our capacity to quarantine sufferers and test contacts, certainly represents a concern," Derek Gatherer, a researcher with Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, said, according to SciDev.Net. "The worst-case scenario would be uncontained Ebola within a large city and people flying out of the city to other parts of the world,"

A cumulative total of 291 suspected and confirmed cases of ebola have been reported in Guinea since the beginning of the outbreak, with 193 deaths.