The Worst Part of Sampling a Dead Gorilla for Ebola

The task described by Dr. Karesh — a former chief field veterinarian at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs New York’s zoos — was part of an unusual research project. Scientists were trying to predict human Ebola outbreaks by detecting them first in apes and other forest animals. The team recently published a study in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B detailing 12 years of this work in the Republic of Congo. In some ways the study, which lasted from 2006 to 2018, was a failure. Only 58 samples were gathered from dead animals, and none was positive for Ebola. Therefore, the team’s hypothesis — that animal sampling could be an early warning system for human outbreaks — was not proved.


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