Ebola: Past, Present and Future - Summary

In 1976, a deadly illness is spreading in the area around Yambuku, Zaire (today known as the Democratic Republic of Congo).  People who are getting sick, and dying at alarming rates, seem to have one thing in common:  the local mission hospital.

A few months earlier, in Sudan, a similar deadly outbreak has happened.  No one knows what is going on.

When blood samples of a nun who works at the Yambuku Mission Hospital are sent to the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Antwerp, no one realizes how deadly the samples are.  Lab workers handle the vials protected only by latext gloves. 

When one of the vials drops on the floor, spilling its contents on a lab-worker's shoes, no one realizes how deadly the virus really is.

Virus hunters, known at the time as "Disease Cowboys," travel to Yambuku to investigate the mysterious, deadly illness. They interview many people as they try to understand how the illness is being transmitted.  They never fully understand its source.

Realizing that the new virus needs a name, the scientists at first call it the "Yambuku Virus." Realizing the stigmatizing impact that will have on the village, however, they decide to name the virus after a nearby river. 

The closest river, a tributary of the Congo, is the Ebola. The virus now has a name.

In the years which follow, there are other outbreaks of the Ebola virus.  It seems to remain endemic to Africa, but when it strikes it is always highly contagious and deadly.

In 2014, the most-widespread outbreak of Ebola—ever—occurs in several West-African countries. Still highly contagious and deadly, the disease also leaves Africa as health-care workers travel back to their own homes.

In this story, visit Yambuku and see where the virus first began to spread in that area of Africa. Meet the virus hunters who risked their lives to investigate a growing disaster among the local people and surrounding villages. See the river which gives its name to the virus.

Along the way, study the virus itself and learn how its own defense mechanism inhibits a victim's body from engaging the human immune system. Learn how medical researches are trying to target the virus' masking system to develop help for suffering people.


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 19, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Jul 28, 2019

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"Ebola: Past, Present and Future" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 19, 2014. Jan 19, 2020.
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