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Emerging disease: Looking for trouble

How do you persuade philanthropists to pay $1 million for every pathogenic human virus you discover? Anjali Nayar talks to 'virus hunter' Nathan Wolfe in Cameroon to find out.

Every day, more than 100 patients line up for treatment outside the bare cement walls of a rural health clinic in the Niete forest of southern Cameroon. Most of them suffer from what virologist Nathan Wolfe calls "the usual suspects": malaria and typhoid. But every once in a while there is something a little different: a case that is tough to diagnose, or that doesn't respond as expected to medication. For the patients and the medics here, this presents a problem. For Wolfe, it is also an opportunity. "I get all excited," he says. "These areas are choc-a-block full of interesting, unusual viruses."

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