The Comparative Structure of Zika and Ebola

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Updated: Jan 05, 2020
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Background Information

Viruses are microscopic parasites, must smaller than bacteria. They lack the skill to thrive and reproduced outside a host. Viruses are generally classified by the organisms they infect such as animals and plants. Zika and Ebola are two commonly known viruses that have infected a widespread of humans and animals.

The Zika virus, ZIKV/Flaviviridae, also known as a flavivirus, is a virus infection that originated from the Zika Forest, Urganda, in 1947. This virus was commonly mistaken for yellow fever but was not identical to it. Zika is a disease transmitted by the Aedes genus also known as mosquitoes. ( Slenczka, 2016)

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Ebola, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly mostly affecting people and nonhuman primates. Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 near the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the virus has been infecting people from time to time. Scientist don’t know where Ebola originated from but scientist know that the virus is animal-borne with bats being the most likely source. ( Massachusetts’s medical society, 2016)

Effects of the virus:

  • Zika began effecting many regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and jungles, then soon travel to South America and even made its way to North America.
  • Zika can spread from a pregnant mother to her child and through sexual contact with an affected partner. The bats carrying the virus can transmit it to other animals, like apes, monkeys and humans.
  • Ebola can spread to people through direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues or infected fruit bats or primates.
  • Ebola attacks the spleen and kidneys, and kills the cells that help the body regulate its fluid and chemical balance and make proteins that help blood to clot. It causes liver, lungs and kidneys to shut down their functions and the blood vessels to leak fluid into its surrounding tissues (Kilgore, 2015)
  • Both viruses can spread to humans and animals through a blood source and kills them from the inside. Not only that, but both viruses are contagious too and need to be treated immediately.


  • The most common symptoms of this Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.
  • Symptoms of Ebola include; fever, severe headache, muscle pain, abdominal pain, and unexplained hemorrhage.
  • Both virus’ share the common symptoms of fevers, and pains around the body.

Molecular structure

  • Another part of Zika is it molecular structure. Zika’s RNA genome folds up into a complex structure and this structure leads to the production of small RNA’s. Zika is an example of virus that does not store its genome in DNA, rather it uses a molecule called the viral genomic RNA. ( CU Anschutz Medical campus, 2016)
  • Ebola is a pathogen capable of causing a severe hemorrhagic fever with 50-90% lethality. The glycoprotein of Ebola is a critical component of vaccines as well as a target of neutralizing antibodies and inhibitors of attachment and fusion. ( Virol, 2009)
  • Ebola first attacks macrophages and dendritic immune cells. Virus’ like Ebola are thought to be lethal because they affect a wide array of tissues. (Falasca, 2015)


  • Ebola has 4 known strains; Sudan, Zaire, Cote d’Ivoire , and Reston. Ebola is one of the two members of the filovirus family. The genus of this virus is Filoviridae. (Rogers, 2014)
  • Zika ‘is a member if a family of virus known as Flaviviruses.
  • Even though both virus’s come from different families they both are know as single stranded viruses, that are transmitted to humans.


In conclusion both Zika and Ebola are commonly known viruses that have had a huge impact on the health of humans and animals. Both viruses might be completely different but they do share many common parts even though they are not from the same linage.

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The Comparative Structure of Zika and Ebola. (2020, Jan 05). Retrieved from