A Derry born medical specialist is to travel to Africa to help combat an outbreak of a deadly virus.
Leading virologist Dr. Christopher H. Logue will be travelling to the epicentre of the recent outbreak of Ebola in west Africa. The epidemic was first reported in March in Guinea and has since crossed borders into Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Christopher, who is a Senior Virologist at the ‘Novel and Dangerous Pathogens (NaDP) Unit at Public Health England in Porton Down, UK’ will be working along side the top medical specialists in the world to help control and prevent the further spread of the virus which currently has a 54% death rate. Speaking to ‘The Journal’ Christopher said: “ The outbreak is the largest we have ever seen in these West African countries and rapid testing of suspected cases, patient isolation, contact-tracing and epidemiological management are all vital to the effort of containing the spread of the outbreak. As part of the European Mobile Lab efforts we are also involved in training local Guinean scientists in the techniques used in the lab to test for the virus.”
Dr. Logue who was born in Derry and grew up in Park Village in the Claudy area moved to Brussels when he was 9. He continued “Park was a wonderful place to live and somewhere I have many fond memories of. I still have family in the area, although I don’t get to visit as much as I would like, as I travel a lot with work.”
When asked about what took him into the field of ‘Virology’ Christopher replied: “I was always interested in what makes people ill, but more so, in how the pathogens that make them them ill work.” His passion for science took Christopher to Edinburgh University where he studied Biological Sciences. He then went on to study for his Ph.D at the Moyne Institute of Preventive at Trinity College Dublin. “ That research took me to the CDC in the US and then back to Europe at Public Health England where I work as a senior virologist within the Novel and Dangerous Pathogens training team at PHE, Porton Down.”
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in human that originates primarily in remote villages in central and west Africa. The pathogen spreads through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. At present there is no licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available.
Christopher’s job is to aid the healthcare workers such as the ‘’ ‘Médecins Sans Frontières’ who are already in the effected areas trying to treat patients and work out where the virus might go next. Speaking on the methods that are being put in place to slow the rate at which the virus is spreading Dr Logue said: “In addition to the high levels of transmission between family members caring for their ill and burying their dead, there have been several contributing factors to the high numbers of infections we are seeing. These include an initial infrastructure that did not have the capacity for dealing with an incident like this, medical facilities that are over stretched in terms of trained staff and resources, and an early unfamiliarity with the preventive measures that needed to be taken to reduce the spread of the Ebola virus. Additionally, dense populations around the capital cities and commercial and social activity along the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are thought to be other key factors contributing to the spread of EVD.”
He will be working alongside two other specialists on a project set up in 2011. Known as the “European Mobile Lab”, the project will be used for rapid testing of patients, treatment and to instruct local people on prevention techniques. He is due to arrive in Guinea on the 17th of August and will stay until mid-September when he will be relieved by a replacement team who will continue his fantastic work.