Increasing Pestilence in ‘Diverse Places’; Hunting for ‘Disease X’. In the Congo rainforest, the doctor who discovered Ebola warns of deadly viruses yet to come
By Sam Kiley, CNN Updated 6:10 AM ET, Tue December 22, 2020
Watch CNN’s “The Coming Contagion” on CNN International on Thursday, December 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET, on Friday, December 25 at 2:30 a.m. ET and on Sunday, December 27 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo — Showing early symptoms of hemorrhagic fever, the patient sits quietly on her bed, wrangling two toddlers desperate to flee the cell-like hospital room in Ingende, a remote town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
They are waiting for the results of a test for Ebola.
The patient can only communicate with her relatives through a clear plastic observation window. Her identity is secret, to protect her from being ostracized by locals fearful of Ebola infection. Her children have also been tested but, for now, show no symptoms.
There is a vaccine and a treatment for Ebola, which have brought down the rate at which it kills.
But the question at the back of everyone’s mind is: What if this woman doesn’t have Ebola? What if, instead, she is patient zero of “Disease X,” the first known infection of a new pathogen that could sweep the world as fast as Covid-19, but one that has Ebola’s 50% to 90% fatality rate?
This isn’t the stuff of science fiction. It’s a scientific fear, based on scientific facts.
“We’ve all got to be frightened,” the patient’s physician, Dr. Dadin Bonkole, said. “Ebola was unknown. Covid was unknown. We have to be afraid of new diseases.”
Threat to humanity
Humanity faces an unknown number of new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa’s tropical rainforests, according to Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976 and has been on the frontline of the hunt for new pathogens ever since.
“We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out,” he told CNN. “And that’s what constitutes a threat for humanity.”
As a young researcher, Muyembe took the first blood samples from the victims of a mysterious disease that caused hemorrhages and killed about 88% of patients and 80% of the staff who were working at the Yambuku Mission Hospital when the disease was first discovered.
The vials of blood were sent to Belgium and the US, where scientists found a worm-shaped virus. They called it “Ebola,” after the river close to the outbreak in the country that was then known as Zaire.
The identification of Ebola relied on a chain that connected the most remote parts of Africa’s rainforests to high-tech laboratories in the West.
Now, the West must rely on African scientists in the Congo and elsewhere to act as the sentinels to warn against future diseases.
In Ingende, the fears of encountering a new, deadly, virus remained very real even after the recovery of the patient showing symptoms that looked like Ebola. Her samples were tested on site and sent on to the Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa, where they were further tested for other diseases with similar symptoms. All came back negative, the illness that affected her remains a mystery.
Speaking exclusively to CNN in the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, Muyembe warned of many more zoonotic diseases — those that jump from animals to humans — to come.
Yellow fever, various forms of influenza, rabies, brucellosis and Lyme disease are among those that pass from animals to humans, often via a vector such as a rodent or an insect.
They’ve caused epidemics and pandemics before.
HIV emerged from a type of chimpanzee and mutated into a world-wide modern plague. SARS, MERS and the Covid-19 virus known as SARS-CoV-2 are all coronaviruses that jumped to humans from unknown “reservoirs” — the term virologists use for virus’ natural hosts — in the animal kingdom. Covid-19 is thought to have originated in China, possibly in bats.
Does Muyembe think future pandemics could be worse than Covid-19, more apocalyptic? “Yes, yes, I think so,” he said.
New viruses on the rise
Since the first animal-to-human infection, yellow fever, was identified in 1901, scientists have found at least another 200 viruses known to cause disease in humans. According to research by Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, new species of viruses are being discovered at a rate of three to four a year. The majority of them originate from animals.
Experts say the rising number of emerging viruses is largely the result of ecological destruction and wildlife trade.
As their natural habitats disappear, animals like rats, bats, and insects survive where larger animals get wiped out. They’re able to live alongside human beings and are frequently suspected of being the vectors that can carry new diseases to humans.
Scientists have linked past Ebola outbreaks to heavy human incursion into the rainforest. In one 2017 study, researchers used satellite data to determine that 25 of the 27 Ebola outbreaks located along the limits of the rainforest biome in Central and West Africa between 2001 and 2014 began in places that had experienced deforestation about two years prior. They added that zoonotic Ebola outbreaks appeared in areas where human population density was high and where the virus has favorable conditions, but that the relative importance of forest loss is partially independent of these factors.
In the first 14 years of the 21st century, an area larger than the size of Bangladesh was felled in the Congo River basin rainforest.
The United Nations has warned that if the current deforestation and population growth trends continue, the country’s rainforest may have completely disappeared by the end of the century. As that happens, animals and the viruses they carry will collide with people in new and often disastrous ways.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
A multidisciplinary group of scientists based across the US, China, Kenya and Brazil has calculated that a global investment of $30 billion a year into projects to protect rainforests, halt the wildlife trade and farming would be enough to offset the cost of preventing future pandemics.
Writing in the journal Science, the group said spending $9.6 billion a year on global forest protection schemes could lead to a 40% reduction in global deforestation in areas at the highest risk of virus spillover. This could include incentivizing the people living in and making their living from the forests, and banning widespread logging and the commercialization of the wildlife trade.
A similar program in Brazil led to a 70% decline in deforestation between 2005 and 2012, the scientists said.
While $30 billion a year may sound like a lot, scientists argue that the investment would quickly pay for itself. The coronavirus pandemic will cost the US alone an estimated $16 trillion over the next 10 years, according to Harvard economists David Cutler and Larry Summers, the former US Treasury Secretary. The IMF estimates that globally, the pandemic will cost $28 trillion in lost output between 2020 and 2025, relative to pre-pandemic projections.
The early warning system
Muyembe now runs the INRB in Kinshasa.
While some scientists still sit in the cramped offices in the old INRB compound where Muyembe first worked on Ebola, brand-new laboratories opened in February. The INRB is supported by Japan, the US, the World Health Organization, the EU and other international donors including NGOs, foundations and academic institutions
With Biosafety Level 3 labs, genome sequencing capability and world-class equipment, these facilities are not an act of charitable aid — they’re a strategic investment
Backed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, these INRB labs are the world’s early warning system for new outbreaks of known diseases like Ebola, and — perhaps more importantly — for those illnesses we have yet to discover.
“If a pathogen emerged from Africa it will take time to spread all over the world,” Muyembe said. “So, if this virus is detected early — like in my institution here — there will be opportunity for Europe [and the rest of the world] to develop new strategies to fight these new pathogens.”
Muyembe has reconnaissance units on the frontline of the war against new pathogens. Doctors, virologists and researchers are working deep in the DRC’s interior, seeking out known and unknown viruses before they can cause new pandemics.
Simon Pierre Ndimbo and Guy Midingi are ecologists and virus hunters in the DRC’s northwestern Équateur Province, where Ingende is located. They’re the tip of the spear in tracking and tracing signs of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs).
On a recent expedition the pair collected 84 bats, painstakingly picking them from their nets and tying the squealing, nipping animals up into bags.
“You have to be careful — if not, they bite,” explained Midingi, his hands double-gloved for protection.
A single bat bite could be the moment a new disease makes the leap from animals to humans.
Ndimbo says their priority is to look for signs of Ebola infection in the bats. The latest outbreak of the disease in the Équateur province has been traced to human-to-human transmission but also to a new strain that is assumed so have come from the forest reservoir. And no one knows where, or what, that reservoir is.
Back at the lab in Mbandaka the bats are swabbed, and blood samples are taken to be tested for Ebola before being sent to the INRB for further tests. The bats are then released.
Dozens of new coronaviruses have been found in bats over recent years. No one knows just how dangerous they may be to humans.
Exactly how Ebola first infected humans remains a mystery, but scientists believe zoonotic illnesses like Ebola and Covid-19 make the leap when wild animals are butchered.
So-called “bushmeat” is the traditional source of protein for people living in the rainforests, but it is now traded far from where it’s sourced and exported globally. The UN estimates that as much as 5 million tons of bushmeat are taken from the Congo River basin each year.
In Kinshasa, a market trader brandishes the smoked carcass of a colobus monkey, its teeth exposed in a gruesome, petrified grin — he’s selling the small primates for $22, though the price, he says, is “negotiable.”
Colobus monkeys have been hunted to extinction in some parts of the DRC, but the trader says he could export scores of them to Europe by plane.
“I have to be honest, it’s forbidden to send the monkeys,” he explains. “We have to cut their heads and arms off and pack them among the other meats.”
He says he gets deliveries every week, often from Ingende, around 400 miles upriver — the same village where doctors live in fear of a new pandemic emerging.
Adams Cassinga, CEO of Conserv Congo and a wildlife crime investigator, said investigations have shown that “in Kinshasa alone, we have between five and 15 tons of bushmeat exported … some goes to the Americas … but the biggest part goes to Europe. Mainly to Brussels, Paris and London.”
Smoked monkeys, soot-blackened sections of python, and fly-blown hams of sitatunga, a water-dwelling antelope, are gruesome. But they’re unlikely to be carrying dangerous viruses, which would be killed by the cooking process — although scientists have warned that even cooked primate meat is not completely safe.
The live animals in the so-called “wet” market pose a bigger threat.
Here young crocodiles — snouts wired shut and legs tied up — writhe on top of one another. Traders offer barrels of giant land snails, tortoises and freshwater turtles. Elsewhere there are black markets from live chimpanzees, and more exotic animals, some traded into private collections, others heading for the pot.
“Disease X” may be ticking away inside any one of these animals, brought to the metropolis by poor people serving the tastes of the rich for exotic meals and pets.
“Bushmeat here, in urban areas, unlike the popular misconception, it is not for the poor, it is for the rich and privileged, so you’ve got high-ranking officials who believe in superstition that if you consume a certain type of bushmeat, it will give you strength,” Cassinga said. “You also have people who consume it as a symbol of status. But also in the last 10 to 20 years we have experienced an influx of expatriates, mainly from Southeast Asia, and who demand to eat certain types of meat such as turtles, snakes, primates.”
Scientists have previously linked these kinds of wet markets to zoonotic diseases. The H5N1 influenza virus, known as the avian flu, and SARS both emerged from them. The exact origin of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has not been confirmed. But the greatest suspicion for its source has fallen on “wet” markets where live animals are sold and butchered for meat.
The commercialization of the bushmeat trade is a potential route for infection. It’s also a symptom of the devastation of the Congo tropical rainforest, the world’s second largest after the Amazon.
Most of the destruction is driven by local farmers, who rely on the forest economically — 84% of forest clearance is to make room for small scale agriculture.
Yet the slash and burn techniques used by the locals increase human exposure to this once-virgin territory and its wild animals, a major risk factor for disease.
“If you go in the forest … you will change the ecology; and insects and rats will leave this place and come to the villages … so this is the transmission of the virus, of the new pathogens,” Muyembe said.
Back in Ingende Hospital, the doctors are wearing as much protective gear as can be found: Goggles, yellow biohazard overalls, double gloves taped shut, hoods over their heads and shoulders, galoshes over their shoes, and complex facemasks.
They are still worried that the female patient may be showing symptoms of an Ebola-like illness that is not, in fact, Ebola. It may be a new virus, it may also be one of the many diseases that afflict people here that are already known to science — but none of the tests done here have explained her high fever and diarrhea.
“We get cases which look very much like Ebola, but then when we do the tests, they are negative,” said the head of medical services in Ingende, Dr. Christian Bompalanga.
“We have to carry out additional examinations in order to see what is really going on … at the moment there are a couple of suspected cases over there,” he added, pointing to the isolation ward where the young woman and her kids are being treated. And weeks later there remains no clear diagnosis for her illness.
Once a new virus begins circulating among humans, the consequences of a brief encounter at the edge of a forest or at a wet market could be devastating. Covid-19 has shown that. Ebola has proved it. And in most of the scientific publications there is an assumption that there will be more contagions coming as humans continue to destroy wilderness habitats. It’s not an “IF” it’s a “WHEN”.
The solution is clear. Protect the forests to protect humanity — because Mother Nature has deadly weapons in her armory.
CNN’s Ingrid Formanek and Ivana Kottasová contributed to this report. Thanks to Dr. Meris Matondo and Dr. Richard Ekila from INRB, the Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research, for their guidance during the reporting of this story.
Night Watchman Note; ‘THE GRAND DADDY SIGN’. ‘THAT WICKED’. That is what ‘watchmen or women’ do. Jesus made clear that when He actually does come for His disciples, His wise and faithful servants would be aware of the time because they would be watching. They would know the season of the times by WATCHING those things ‘coming to pass or occurring’ as Jesus said they would. The ‘BENCHMARK SIGN(s)’ always point towards Israel / Jacob. God’s prophetic timepiece. The FALSE PEACE COVENANT confirmed by the Prince/Beast among MENA (the many) is the ‘key sign’ of the times or the season of the times. Yes, we are in that period. The Prince/Beast will likely confirm and enhance the current ‘normalization’ agreement with Jacob to be a ‘peace’ agreement, to be extended to 7 years from the current 5 years, to include some agreement permitting the rebuilding of the third temple in exchange for ‘some portion of Jerusalem.’ The current ‘investment’ period for the Palestinians stands at five (5) years. This will likely occur AFTER the Bride, Disciples or True Church is removed from the earth via the Rapture / Harpazo / Redemption / ‘Twinkling’.
Confirmation for Seven (7) Years
Daniel 9:26-27 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
‘Current Plan’ (Satan’s Plan = Five (5) years financial investment period for 180 (6+6+6) ‘infrastructure projects’ costing $50 (5) Billion to cut poverty by 50% (5)).
U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan, which he unveiled at the White House on Jan. 28, 2020, calls for Israel to retain 30 percent of the West Bank (territory that the parties to the conflict had already agreed would remain under Israeli control, in accordance with the 1995 Oslo Accords), with the remaining 70 percent reserved for an eventual Palestinian state. The plan states that there would be a freeze on Israeli settlement-building in that area for four years—and land swaps to provide the Palestinian state with land comparable in size to the territory of pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza, and a capital in eastern Jerusalem.
It includes a $50 billion investment fund for 179 infrastructure and business projects in that state, designed to create more than one million jobs, cut the poverty rate by 50 percent and reduce unemployment from 31 percent to a single digit.
US President Donald Trump has predicted that Saudi Arabia will be among up to 10 further countries preparing to ‘normalize’ their relations with Israel.
The meaning was obvious: The country [Saudi Arabia] is tired of waiting for Palestinians to make peace and is preparing to move on. The message to foreign capitals, perhaps to Washington in particular, is equally clear: The time is coming when a deal may be done.
Prophetic Discernment: Two ‘Scenarios’. I am not ‘dogmatic’ about either one. Other scenarios could come into play. THE POINT … is how close we are!
Trump may still yet get the Beast to agree for ‘MENA’ the ‘CURRENT’ plan, SHORTLY, in the few remaining days left in the ‘Last Trump’ or ‘Last Trumpence’ Presidency. Saudis may be ‘nervous’ about the Biden election and want to get the ‘deal done and finished’ while Trump is in the twilight of his presidency.
The following would take place AFTER the Rapture: Biden/Harris may work to ‘ENHANCE’ the plan by the literal splitting of Jerusalem along the 1967 lines. An ‘exchange’ of sovereignty to get a temple for the Jews and to give the Beast custodianship of al-Aqsa … that which he covets. The plan will be ‘ENHANCED’ (investment wise for the Palestinians) for Seven (7) years. Perhaps the investment amount will also be increased.
Then the following: Beast ‘ENHANCES’ the plan under Biden, by splitting Jerusalem along 1967 lines. In a ‘Give up Sovereignty, Get a Temple’ scenario. The plan finally gets ‘CONFIRMED’ or approved shortly, under Biden/Harris (Deceiver-in-Chief and Jezebel-in-Chief).
Either way, the Rapture / Harpazo / Redemption / ‘Twinkling’ is imminent.
Prophecy has a ‘window.’ That window is closing shortly and quickly. As is the door in the ‘Age of Grace’ for the world.
Pay ‘Eagle-Eye’ attention to the world geo-political news feeds to see if any type of ‘confirmation’ is forthcoming or made by the Prince / Beast/ 8th King / Son of Perdition / Future Antichrist / Man of Lawlessness. Also MbS, Man-by-Satan and the Confirmer and he that causeth the Abomination of Desolation in April 2024. Trump may surprise the world and suddenly proclaim that a deal has been reach or agreed upon by Saudi Arabia and at least nine (3×3) other Arab/Muslim countries from MENA. If nothing happens over the next 10 days, it is possible the entire covenant could be ‘strengthened and confirmed’ AFTER the rapture. This is a very real possibility. Be warned and hopeful.
Seven (7) References to ‘BE WATCHING or WATCHFUL.’
Matthew 24:42; Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13; Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Mark 13:35; Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning.
Luke 21:36; Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man
Luke 12:37-39; Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (Be Watching).
John 13:19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
John 14:29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Mark 13:29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
‘Increasing Like Labor Pains.’ ‘Fearful Sights.’ ‘Perilous Times.’ ‘Men’s hearts failing with fear.’ Great Convergence of Signs.’ REDEMPTION IMMINENT.
In His Service,
Night Watchman Ministries
Make Your Decision for Christ NOW!!!!!!! Time is Up!!!!!!!
Jesus Christ’s Offer of Salvation:
The ABCs of Salvation through Jesus Christ (the Lamb)
A. Admit/Acknowledge/Accept that you are sinner. Ask God’s forgiveness and repent of your sins.
. . . “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
. . . “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
B. Believe Jesus is Lord. Believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be; that He was both fully God and fully man and that we are saved through His death, burial, and resurrection. Put your trust in Him as your only hope of salvation. Become a son or daughter of God by receiving Christ.
. . . “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).
C. Call upon His name, Confess with your heart and with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.
. . . “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John 1:8-10).
. . . “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (John 2:2).
. . . “In this was manifested the love of god toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:9, 14-15).
. . . “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10).
. . . “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
. . . “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
. . . “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 1:16).
. . . “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts: 4:12).
. . . “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
. . . “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
. . . “But as many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12).
True Church / Bride of Christ Spared from God’s Wrath:
Romans 5:8-10. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Romans 12:19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Categories: Pestilence Update