“I’m sorry for your loss. May I check your pig?”

Does it sound cruel? If you said yes, researchers from Friedrich-Loeffler Institute agree with you. They had to go back to after-ebola-outbreak regions to perform a sorology research and here is what they went through.


All of us remember of the 2014-2016 ebola outbreak in West Africa. It was the largest in history leaving more than 10 thousand deaths behind. Although people are not in such high risk anymore, livestock animals such pigs and sheep might still be vulnerable to the disease and threaten local food security. That is why scientists funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) decided to go back to those most affected areas in past and collect animal samples. How would you feel however if a stranger asks to check your animals out after losing a beloved one from the same disease?

Having this in mind, Klaas Dietze moved the audience with the presentation “the importance of farm, domestic and wild animals as a source of Ebola virus infection” yesterday. Unusually for a scientific conference, he didn’t share his research findings, and rather shared about what the scientists saw and the families’ situation after the outbreak. By doing this he brought to the audience’s mind that behind every paper written there are a pile of moments you shared with people that struggle with the most diverse challenges every day.

“How do you work and get on board (on the research) a devastated community? This is the real story of this project, more than a yes/no research results and few papers published."

The key message left was to remember that before well-rated scientific papers comes the respect to people while executing the research. Thanks to the flexibility the project had, Klaas was able to train his team to help the farmers with the problems they think are important before, and only after this to ask permission to collect data scientists think is important. In this way, they didn’t lose their hearts, on the opposite: performed full-heart research.



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