Evidence for two subtypes of Ebola virus based on oligonucleotide mapping of RNA

J Infect Dis. 1983 Feb;147(2):272-5. doi: 10.1093/infdis/147.2.272.


Ebola viruses isolated during outbreaks of acute hemorrhagic fever in Africa from 1976 to 1979 were examined by T1 oligonucleotide mapping of virion RNA. Two Ebola virus subtypes distinguishable by their oligonucleotide patterns were involved in the outbreaks of the disease during this three-year period. The first type was isolated in Zaire in 1976 and again in 1977; the second type caused outbreaks in Sudan in 1976 and again in 1979. Oligonucleotide patterns of the two groups of Ebola viruses (Zaire and Sudan) were remarkably similar within the group but differed between groups by approximately 60 oligonucleotides. We can conclude from this study (1) that the outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever which occurred concurrently in 1976 in Zaire and Sudan were caused by viruses that are genetically distinct; (2) that compared with other RNA viruses there was an unusually high genetic stability among viruses within Zaire and Sudan over two- and three-year periods, respectively; and (3) that the two genetic subtypes probably evolved from a common ancestor since they share common oligonucleotides.

MeSH terms

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ebolavirus / classification*
  • Ebolavirus / isolation & purification
  • Ebolavirus / metabolism
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers, Viral / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotides / isolation & purification*
  • Oligoribonucleotides / isolation & purification*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Rhabdoviridae / classification*
  • Sudan


  • Oligonucleotides
  • Oligoribonucleotides
  • RNA, Viral