A group of international scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered with local experts in the Congo Republic to try to discover the origin of the monkey pox virus after several outbreaks of the disease claimed lives last year. The Washington Post sent reporter Lena Sun and photographer Melina Mara with the virus hunters to document their search.
“As we traveled in dugouts and small boats up the Ubangi River that twisted into the Motaba, we passed villages full of curious souls wondering who and what we were,” Mara said. “We were like the circus coming to town. Boats full of scientists and equipment on a search to solve a mystery — how does an illness like monkey pox spread? The people we encountered up the river did not know our mission. Their faces were full of different questions. They called to us over and over again, but we couldn’t stop. We were chasing our own questions.” This is a selection of scenes Mara photographed as the team traveled along the Congolese rivers.