Scientific Publication

Emerging disease or emerging diagnosis? Lassa fever and Ebola in West Africa


It has become routine to attribute the tragedy of the West African Ebola epidemic to inexperience and lack of knowledge. The states and citizens of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were portrayed as entirely unfamiliar with Ebola and therefore without relevant knowledge. The simplicity of this narrative is disturbed by the experience of Lassa fever, an infectious and deadly viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), which is endemic in the three countries most affected by Ebola. This article looks beyond Ebola in 2014 to the history of efforts to control VHFs in the Mano River and challenges the idea that there was a vacuum of knowledge. This research was supported by the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme