Skip to main content

Fever! The hunt for a new killer virus

Today the world is facing the dangers of Ebola Virus but it is not the first killer disease to originate in Africa. In 1969 the Lassa fever began ravaging the same areas of Africa with much the same symptoms and deadliness as Ebola. Lassa came out of the African bush country and spread terror throughout the Nigerian Highlands. Its first known victim was a nurse at a lonely mission hospital. She had been cared for by two other nurses both of whom fell ill. One died, the other was flown to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York for emergency treatment. It was the beginning of one of the most dramatic detective stories in modern medical science. To identify the pestilence, find its carrier, and produce a cure, neurologists began working around the clock. But even scientists in their supposedly germ-proof laboratories weren't safe. The virus struck down workers in the Yale University lab. Research was halted, then transferred to Atlanta, Georgia, where it could be conducted in the newly built maximum security moon research facilities. Meanwhile, the disease was radiating across Africa, where thousands of people faced horrifying deaths if a cure could not be found. Ebola is presenting the world with the same sort of devastating danger today.

Categories: History
Reference: Fuller, J. (1977). Fever!: The Hunt for a New Killer Virus. Panther Books.