The virus hunter

For University of California, Los Angeles, epidemiologist Anne Rimoin, 2007 was a rough year.

Drew Fellman
Jan 1, 2008
<figcaption>Epidemiologist Anne Rimoin (left) investigates a case of monkeypox in Lomela, Congo. The patient eventually died from monkeypox-related complications. Credit: © Lynn Johnson / National Geographic</figcaption>
Epidemiologist Anne Rimoin (left) investigates a case of monkeypox in Lomela, Congo. The patient eventually died from monkeypox-related complications. Credit: © Lynn Johnson / National Geographic

For University of California, Los Angeles, epidemiologist Anne Rimoin, 2007 was a rough year. Rebel forces opened fire on her headquarters in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An Ebola outbreak spread across her field site. And the cargo plane she charters to get there crashed, killing all passengers.

Yet none of that has slowed Rimoin or her Monkeypox Project, the most ambitious disease surveillance program ever conducted in the equatorial rainforests of the Congo, the cradle of such emerging infectious diseases as Marburg, HIV and Ebola. Rimoin is so resistant to calamity that her Congolese collaborators dubbed her Mama Etete, "the unstoppable woman."

Then came "the vampire situation."

One day, Rimoin was manning her...

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