Spread of deadly virus challenges researchers, public health workers
NIAID/FLICKR (CC BY 2.0)
West Africa’s 2014 Ebola epidemic demonstrated what can happen when a contagious virus emerges amid a population served by a broken medical system, and where cultural practices, public fears and porous borders fuel the spread of disease.
The outbreak also laid bare an inadequate scientific understanding of the Ebola virus. By the time the World Health Organization and others mobilized to confront the crisis in the middle of the year, public health workers in the field had already started to fall far behind Ebola’s spread. Scientists scrambled to determine how it operates once inside the body.
With only animal studies to go on, researchers also had to pursue a crash course in vaccine and drug testing to get products into the field