Since Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was first identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and despite the numerous outbreaks recorded to date, rarely has an epidemic origin been identified. Indeed, among the twenty-one most documented EVD outbreaks in Africa, an index case has been identified four times, and hypothesized in only two other instances. The initial steps of emergence and spread of a virus are critical in the development of a potential outbreak and need to be thoroughly dissected and understood in order to improve on preventative strategies. In the current West African outbreak of EVD, a unique index case has been identified, pinpointing the geographical origin of the epidemic in Guinea. Herein, we provide an accounting of events that serve as the footprint of EVD emergence in Sierra Leone and a road map for risk mitigation fueled by lessons learned.
Jean Paul Gonzalez
Affiliation: Metabiota Inc., Silver Spring and San Francisco, USA
Jean-Paul Gonzalez joined Metabiota Inc. as Senior Scientist on the 29th of April 2013 as expert on Emerging Diseases and Biosecurity. He graduated from the Medical School of Bordeaux in 1974 (France), completed his internship in French Guyana at the University Hospital Center of Antilles-Guyana (internal medicine and infectious diseases), and received his Ph.D. in viral ecology (Arenavirus molecular ecology) in 1984 from Clermont-Ferrand University (France). He went on to study zoology, marine biology and genetics at Bordeaux University Faculty of Sciences, and got his Master of Public Health & Tropical Medicine form the Medical School of Bordeaux (1975) As a medical researcher and formerly Research Director for the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD, Marseille, France), he has spent his career working in and for developing countries of South America, Africa and Asia (1979-2012). His main fields of interest encompass viral disease epidemiology, virus ecology, arboviruses and viral hemorrhagic fevers and understanding fundamentals of disease emergence. Since the late 70s, he has led international teams with partner institutions of developing countries as well as teams of virologists at the International Network of the Institut Pasteur (Dakar, Senegal; Bangui, Central African Republic). He worked for several years as a guest researcher at the Special Pathogen Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta (Georgia, USA), visiting scientist at the Arbovirus branch of CDC in Fort Collins, and as a visiting professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Medicine (New England, USA). He worked in high security laboratory practices and research (CDC, Yale) and on the early development of geographical information systems applied to Public Health and Infectious Diseases (Yale). From 1997 to 2007, he was invited as a visiting professor of Microbiology, Mahidol University (Thailand) where he founded the Research Center for Emerging Viral Diseases and developed a Technical Platform for the study of Emerging Vector Borne Diseases. He largely contributed to the development of tools and implemented strategies for the control and prevention of transmitted disease. He also developed several innovative concepts including the evolution of viruses on the geological time scale, the co-evolution as a general mode of evolution among others. Dr. Gonzalez has signed and produced books and chapters as well as more than two hundred scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. For four years, Dr. Gonzalez, granted by IRD, was appointed project director by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE), and assigned by Presidential Decree of the Gabonese State, as Executive and Operating Director of the International Research Center for Medical Research of Franceville (Gabon). During that period he largely supported and enhanced several field of research including the Eco-epidemiology of emerging pathogen (virus and bacteria) and their natural reservoir and hosts in Central Africa, an appraisal of zoonotic risk and conservation medicine (e.g.: African non human primates), the understanding the diseases interconnection (e.g.: Sickle-cell diseases and infectious diseases), among others. His as a General Director of CIRMF Gabon, under the French MAEE ended on August 28, 2012 (, Technical Assistant of French MAEE: project manager in Gabon,). From 2012 to 2013, he returned for one year to his Institute of origin, IRD, appointed by the French Ministry of Research and Education as a scientific correspondent for Emerging Diseases and Biosecurity and based in Washington D.C. and hosted by Metabiota Inc. In 2013, he retired from the French government and joined Metabiota Inc. for implementing Tools & Strategies for Disease Emergence Assessment. He his presently actively participating in several projects as principal investigator or expert, including several: Filovirus Diversity, Animal Models for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, Remote Sensing of Lassa Fever, Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers of Unknown Origin (Biosecurity Engagement Program, BEP) ; training on Emerging Diseases (Academic Engagement Program, DoS AEP); Outbreak Preparedness and Response Training (DoS CBEP) among others.