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  • NARRATOR: In 1976, a deadly illness erupted

  • in a remote province of Zaire.

  • [music playing]

  • Belgian nuns tending to the sick described horrific symptoms

  • followed by agonizing deaths.

  • REID WILSON: It attacks tissue around the body.

  • It basically attacks everything in the human body

  • except for your bones.

  • NARRATOR: Doctors from Zaire, Europe, and America

  • traveled to the epicenter to investigate.

  • REID WILSON: When responders got there,

  • they had no idea what they were looking at.

  • But they did know that they were looking

  • at this deadly new virus.

  • NARRATOR: The researchers might not

  • have known what this new virus was,

  • but they learned how it spread so quickly.

  • [whoosh]

  • Medical supplies were so scarce here

  • that the Belgian nurses had resorted

  • to reusing hypodermic needles.

  • [music playing]

  • This virus had an astounding mortality rate of nearly 90%.

  • In less than two months, it claimed some 300 lives.

  • [whoosh]

  • Then suddenly, the nightmare ended, and no one knew why.

  • NANCY JAAX: They just knew the virus popped out of nowhere,

  • and it disappeared just as quickly.

  • NARRATOR: Epidemiologists named Ebola Zaire

  • after the nearby Ebola river and dreaded its return,

  • which it did in just a few relatively contained

  • outbreaks over the next decade.

  • But the greatest fear was that someday the virus

  • would emerge in a densely populated

  • region, which it also did.

  • [music playing]

  • REID WILSON: So back in 1989, in the Washington suburb

  • of Reston, all of a sudden, a bunch of monkeys at a warehouse

  • started dying.

  • NARRATOR: Hazleton Laboratories, Reston,

  • Virginia, one of the largest animal testing

  • companies in the country.

  • A shipment of 100 long-tailed macaques

  • came in from the Philippines.

  • Two were dead on arrival.

  • The illness quickly spread to dozens of monkeys.

  • Desperate for a diagnosis, the company

  • sent samples to a high security lab run by the military, a US

  • Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases,

  • or USAMRID.

  • [whoosh]

  • Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax examined the tissues.

  • NANCY JAAX: What we found then was really pretty alarming.

  • I was seeing a section of liver.

  • I saw all these very large cells--

  • which are called macrophages--

  • and they were full of material which

  • is very typical in a filovirus infection.

  • [whoosh]

  • NARRATOR: A filovirus, a tiny spaghetti-like strand

  • that replicates at lightning speed

  • and causes devastating diseases.

  • Dr. Jaax was very familiar with them.

  • She worked behind layers of bomb resistant walls

  • where the army stored an archive of frozen killers.

  • [whoosh] Marburg--

  • [whoosh]

  • --Ebola Sudan--

  • [whoosh]

  • --and the most lethal of all, Ebola Zaire.

  • Dr. Jaax used her stash of filoviruses

  • to compare it to the monkey sample, and to her surprise,

  • the one that matched was the virus

  • that struck Zaire in 1976.

  • We're thinking, well, that's not possible we

  • need to check it again.

  • And they checked it three times, and every time,

  • there was no mix up.

  • It was showing positive for Ebola Zaire.

  • JERRY JAAX: I think Nancy came to my office and said--

  • NANCY JAAX: I did go to his office.

  • JERRY JAAX: --you're not going to believe what just happened.

  • You know, it looks like we've got Ebola virus

  • in these monkeys in Virginia.

  • There was a lot of confusion and going, oh, wow.

  • This is really crazy.

  • What are we going to do?

  • NANCY JAAX: We immediately had to kick into high gear.

  • NARRATOR: The army formed the battle plan.

  • The first order, euthanize the monkeys to prevent an epidemic.

  • Nancy's husband, Colonel Jerry Jaax, led the team.

  • JERRY JAAX: Nobody likes killing monkeys,

  • but we were in an emergency situation.

  • It was something that we had to do to make sure

  • that we didn't have a significant outbreak

  • within the human population.

  • NARRATOR: They dodged a bullet.

  • And they soon realized this strain of Ebola

  • wasn't harmful to humans, but they

  • knew it was only a matter of time

  • before they'd have to face the unimaginable.

  • NANCY JAAX: The question, of course,

  • is are you going to get a mutation

  • that then makes it more airborne or makes it more contagious.

  • JERRY JAAX: What we did in a contained building

  • was pretty dramatic, but imagine if it was a city.

  • REID WILSON: The nightmare scenario

  • for global public health officials

  • is something that combines the transmissibility of something

  • like the Spanish flu--

  • which infected probably about a billion people a century ago--

  • and the mortality of Ebola.

  • NAHID BHADELIA: What keeps me up at night

  • is that we'll have a disease that's transmitted by droplets.

  • ANTHONY FAUCI: Something that is respiratory-borne

  • that is a virus like influenza, likely influenza, that has

  • both high degree of transmissibility and high

  • degree of morbidity and mortality.

  • REID WILSON: If something like that spreads around the world,

  • we're just not ready to fight it.

  • [whoosh]

  • [whoosh]

NARRATOR: In 1976, a deadly illness erupted

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The Ebola Outbreak of 1976 | Going Viral

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/12
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