There are many faces of viral disease:  the young and old, people of all ethnic backgrounds, the rich and the poor.  Viruses affect all of us but our stories in managing them are all different depending on who we are and even where we live.   This Project tells the personal stories of people affected by viral disease and those working to unlock the mysteries of viruses in order to prevent infections and treat disease.  If you have a personal story that you would like to share, send an email to us at


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Finding the Human Face of Dengue

Barry Beaty, University Distinguished Professor of Virology, Colorado State University

On one trip to Mexico to conduct mosquito surveillance in the mid 1990’s he encountered first-hand the human face of why one area of his research is so important.

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Stigmatized by viral infection

Stephan Becker, Philipps-Universität Marburg

As a young virologist, when he had just begun working on his Postdoctoral degree at the Institute of Virology in Marburg, he had the chance to visit two survivors of the Marburg virus outbreak in 1967.

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Unknown Viruses

Dr. Robert Gallo, Director, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and Director, Global Virus Network

In September 2012, Dr. Gallo suffered from encephalitis, probably acquired from the mosquitos buzzing in the Shenandoah forest which he had visited with his son.  Given reports in the area, it seemed likely he contracted West Nile Virus for which there is no vaccine or drug therapy.

Word DocumentThe patient with HIV who showed me the real challenge of HIV in Africa

By Prof. Salim Abdool Karim, South African Medical Research Council

“It was the summer of 1992. The hot African sun was beating down that morning as I attended to a queue of patients in a rural South African government clinic. Thandi*, a 21 year old Zulu woman, walked into my consulting room carrying her sick baby wrapped in a woollen blanket on her back. Baby Sipho* was only 16 months. He was pale, malnourished and had oral thrush. A rapid HIV test showed that baby Sipho was HIV positive.”

Word DocumentZoonotic Diseases are Potentially Very Dangerous to Human

By James LeDuc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch

In the late 1970s, Dr. LeDuc was assigned to a laboratory at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil.  At the time, he was serving in the Army, which had a partnership with the Evandro Chagas Institute in Belem. During his time there, an outbreak occurred deep in the Amazon jungle among workers at a Ford rubber plantation. An unknown disease was spreading throughout the plantation, causing its victims to suffer hallucinations, hyper agitation, jaundice, hemorrhages, rash, black vomit, and severe arthritis.   These symptoms were very perplexing because they seldom appear together.

“Some of the workers were employed to clean trails with machetes in the plantation for the rubber trees to grow.  Their arthritis was so critical that they couldn’t even hold the machetes.  One girl, around 15 or 16 years old, had a severely inflamed thumb on her right hand. It was twice the normal size.  She was much, much too young have such inflamed joints. Others were extremely weak from the combination of symptoms, but we could not identify the disease by symptoms alone because they were too numerous, and they varied too much between patients,” LeDuc laments.