Just this afternoon in Miami, a child from West Africa was admitted into Jackson Memorial Hospital with flu-like symptoms. In spite of the Hazmat team arriving at the hospital, health officials have said that the chances of the child having the Ebola virus disease is very unlikely.
Although there has been much talked about in the news regarding the Ebola virus disease, not much has been said about the origin of the virus or where the name has come from. In case you’re wondering, the information below explains Ebola’s history.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez assures Miami residents that testing of the child was precautionary.
Let me emphasize that the test was conducted out of an abundance of caution given that the patient did not meet the criteria set by @CDCgov
— Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) October 6, 2014
The Ebola Name & It’s Origin
- In 1976, a team of scientist received a blue Thermos with a letter written by a doctor from Zaire requesting that they research a blood sample from a nun who had recently fallen ill. The nun along with her sisters were from Belgium and operated a small mission hospital in Yambuku in the Belgian Congo.
- Initially, the team of scientists thought that the disease was the yellow fever, but after analyzing the virus strain, the scientists discovered that the strain was much more aggressive and much more deadlier. The scientists flew to Zaire a few days later.
- After arriving in Zaire, the scientists identified what spread the disease to the people in the area. The nuns would inject vitamins into pregnant women with unsterilized needles at the hospital and in doing so, infected the young women with the virus.
- The name Ebola was given to the virus by the scientists. In this interview, Peter Pilot who is credited with naming the virus gives this account:
On that day our team sat together late into the night – we had also had a couple of drinks – discussing the question. We definitely didn’t want to name the new pathogen ‘Yambuku virus’, because that would have stigmatized the place forever. There was a map hanging on the wall and our American team leader suggested looking for the nearest river and giving the virus its name. It was the Ebola River. So by around three or four in the morning we had found a name. But the map was small and inexact. We only learned later that the nearest river was actually a different one. But Ebola is a nice name, isn’t it?
- The Ebola virus was named after the Ebola River which was located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which was once called Zaire. The river is 250 km in length and was once a tourist attraction but after the spread of the virus and the designation of it’s name, tourism came to a screeching halt. In addition to the nun who fell victim to the virus, the first known victims of Ebola was a headmaster named Mabalo Lokela.
- The Ebola virus disease belongs to the Ebolaviruses family, which includes five species. Four of the five species causes the Ebola virus disease in humans and are named after the locations in which they were identified. The four other members are named Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Reston ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Taï Forest ebolavirus.