Speed Reads

Ebola: Origins

Watch footage from the 1976 discovery of the Ebola virus

America is experiencing its first run-in with Ebola, but Africa has been dealing with the deadly virus on and off since 1976. The current outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea is the deadliest on record by far, but when the earliest known case came to the attention of microbiologist Peter Piot and his colleagues in Zaire, they had to start from scratch. Piot and his fellow co-discoverers of the Ebola virus started out with a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had died of a suspected case of yellow fever. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Piot explains the epidemiological detective work that followed, with rare archival footage from the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. --Peter Weber