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Where Does the Ebola Virus Hide Between Outbreaks?


Photo by Steve Babuljak - by Samantha Ancona Esselmann, Samantha Hindle and Ben Mansky - October 24, 2017

Joe DeRisi, PhD, is a master detective of infectious diseases. No matter how obscure or complex, he says he’ll take on the challenge because “it could lead to new biology that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.”

That's precisely what happened when he stumbled on a clue to cracking the decades-long search for the place – or creature – where the Ebola virus hides between deadly outbreaks. . . .

 . . . In 2009, DeRisi began studying an incurable disease that was killing reptiles raised in captivity, a disease that caused strange neurological symptoms ranging from vomiting to uncontrollable contortions. They found the culprit – a previously undescribed arenavirus – and uncovered something surprising: the Arenavirus’s glycoprotein, a viral “access badge” to the secure insides of a cell, actually belonged to the Ebola virus.



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