Africa

Congolese Virologists Discover a New Disease Similar to Ebola

In Ingende, the fears of encountering a new, deadly, virus remained very real even after the recovery of the patient showing symptoms that looked like Ebola. Her samples were tested on site and sent on to the Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa, where they were further tested for other diseases with similar symptoms. All came back negative, the illness that affected her remains a mystery. Now, the West must rely on African scientists in the Congo and elsewhere to act as the sentinels to warn against future diseases. Humanity faces an unknown number of new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa’s tropical rainforests, according to Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976 and has been on the frontline of the hunt for new pathogens ever since. “We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out,” he told CNN. “And that’s what constitutes a threat for humanity.” The identification of Ebola relied on a chain that connected the most remote parts of Africa’s rainforests to high-tech laboratories in the West. Experts say the rising number of emerging viruses is largely the result of ecological destruction and wildlife trade.

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