When Ebola virus was first spotted in west Africa at the end of 2013, few people were ready. The region had no developed or systematic health system, patients were scattered across remote rural areas, and other infections, such as malaria, were common and mimicked the early symptoms.
But a team in remote Kenema, in Sierra Leone, had been working to fight a different virus – Lassa Fever. They had set up a clinic with diagnostic testing and communications with the outside world. A team of experts had been trained in how to detect and diagnose viral hemorrhagic fevers. They may not have been expecting Ebola, but they had the expertise and some of the equipment and infrastructure needed to help people understand what was happening as the deadly and frightening virus started to spread across borders.
Dr. Robert Garry, who specializes in viruses, had helped set up the team studying Lassa in west Africa. He helped the world understand what was going on with Ebola and quickly understood that his team’s preparations in Kenema had helped in the fight to track and control the virus.
Such preparations also helped when COVID-19 started spreading around the world in 2020.
In this episode of One World, One Health, listen as Dr. Garry explains how he got interested in studying viruses and how preparedness matters in fighting global threats.