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Ebola

Ebola is a deadly disease that was co-discovered in 1976 by researchers of the institute. ITM has been closely monitoring subsequent outbreaks on the African continent, as well as contributing to new developments in diagnostics and treatment.

ITM has been tackling Ebola since its first outbreak.

The Ebola virus is a rare and often fatal disease that causes a hemorrhagic fever. This filamentous virus (or filovirus) is a classic example of an infectious disease that was accidentally transmitted from animal to man and poorly adapted to humans (also called a "zoonotic" disease).

It was co-discovered in 1976 by ITM researchers Guido van der Groen and Peter Piot at the time of its first known outbreak in Yambuku (Zaire, Democratic Republic of the Congo). ITM made a name for itself during subsequent epidemics as well:

  • Dr Bob Colebunders helped combat the Ebola outbreak of 1995 in Kikwit (Zaire, DRC).

  • Prof Johan Van Griensven coordinated a large-scale European research project on the treatment of Ebola, during the unprecedented epidemic in West Africa (2014-2015).

  • Prof Kevin Ariën (at the time Head of the Virology Unit) ensured that the disease could be diagnosed in Antwerp.

  • ITM physician Erika Vlieghe acted as Belgium’s national Ebola coordinator.

Units

Ebola website

Stay informed on the latest disease outbreaks and measures of governmental authorities in the world. The Ebola website is a joint project of ITM and the different governments and communities of Belgium.

Visit our Ebola website
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Impact Story

The discovery of and research on the Ebola virus

ITM researchers Guido van der Groen and Peter Piot co-discovered the Ebola virus, which was first studied in Zaire in 1976.

Research themes

  • antimicrobial-resistance-amr
    Bacteria have found various ways to develop resistance (AMR), of which resistance to antibiotics is a problem reaching across many different domains.
  • tsetse-fly
    Tireless effort is crucial to eliminate human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in the world. For more than a century, ITM has been playing its part.
  • mosquito-on-human-skin-arboviruses
    Arboviruses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika are urgent public health threats in tropical and subtropical areas.
  • malaria-mosquito-net
    By combining efforts on biological, human and societal aspects of the disease, ITM hopes to control and ultimately eliminate malaria in the long term.
  • paulin-madingi-analyses-sample-of-sleeping-sickness-ntd-itm
    Neglected (tropical) diseases are high on the agenda. For many years, ITM has been actively involved in research on NTDs, in particular on leishmaniasis, leprosy and sleeping sickness.
  • vaccination-ctc
    Before vaccines or drugs can be used in the general population, their safety and effectiveness are thoroughly investigated in clinical trials.
  • hiv-test-positive-itm-clinics
    The research of ITM on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS is of inestimable value.
  • larval-sampling-MEMO
    For more than 10 years, ITM has been actively monitoring exotic mosquitoes in Belgium.
  • microscope-monkeypox
    ITM is closely monitoring the development of the mpox disease, both in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
  • women-participating-in-pregact-trial-nazoanga-burkina-faso-sexual-and-reproductive-health-itm
    We help improve sexual and reproductive health in the world by combining scientific research, advanced education, policy support and capacity-strengthening initiatives.
  • tuberculosis-lab-itm-1
    ITM’s research on tuberculosis (TB) is world-renowned. Its shorter combination treatment for resistant tuberculosis was a worldwide breakthrough. Our researchers study new diagnostics and case detection techniques, with the largest public collection of TB strains in the world at their disposal.
  • plant-in-soil-ecohealth
    EcoHealth is an interdepartmental group that unites researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines. We all recognise the need for comprehensive, systemic approaches to address current health challenges that emerge at the interface between humans, animals and their broader natural, social and political environments.
  • blood-sample-sti-hiv-tests-policlinic-itm
    Since the beginning, ITM has been providing medical services to people returning ill from overseas. As such, ITM accumulated profound knowledge of tropical diseases, as well as STIs and HIV.
  • nazoanga-marche-antibiotics-study
    The right to health implies that everybody, everywhere should have access to the needed essential health products, included but not limited to diagnostics, vaccines and medicines.
  • sampling-research-ethics-itm
    Clinical, epidemiological and diagnostics studies, secondary analyses of health data and BioSamples, behavioural studies or any other studies that involve the participation of human individuals, should yield social value and be scientifically justified and ethically sound.
  • outbreak-guinea-ebola
    In a highly interconnected world, ITM continues to innovate and develop its outbreak research capacity.
  • covid-19-itm-envelope-1
    ITM has decades of experience fighting infectious diseases and curbing epidemics. We are fully committed to helping stop the COVID-19 pandemic that is threatening the world. To this end, we work together with partners at home and abroad.

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