An international team, including scientists from the University of Antwerp and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, will fly to Congo on Wednesday. The trip is at the request of the Congolese authorities, and the scientists will be heading to the remote province of Bas-Uélé (northern Democratic Republic of Congo) in order to study the origin of the Ebola epidemic that struck this region last May, said the University of Antwerp in a statement. The epidemic has meanwhile been suppressed.
The National Institute of Congolese Biomedical Research has set up an international team to determine the source of this recent epidemic. “This Congolese institute has also made contact with the University of Antwerp”, explains the biologist, Herwig Leirs.
The researcher will fly to the DRC on June 28 for three weeks with two other Belgian scientists, Erik Verheyen and Sophie Gryseels. Erik Verheyen, a member of the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences, has been collaborating with the University of Kisangani (north-east) for many years and is familiar with the region and its fauna. Sophie Gryseels visited Guinea in 2014 when it was struck by a major Ebola epidemic. She analysed the blood and urine samples of patients infected with the virus for a month in a mobile laboratory.
The three Belgian scientists will collect samples of mammalian tissues such as bats, rodents and shrews, as well as bushmeat.
The Brussels Times