The sections of map are from the very first map of global diseases prduced in 1827 by Friedrich Schnurrer, professor in Oriental culture and history and headmaster of the theological faculty and chancellor of the University of Tübingen, Germany.

This section of Schnurrer’s map I extracted and enlarged is focused on the Congo River.  

Along the right side of that waterway he scribed “Gangran des Mastdarms nach heftigen Kopf u lenden schmerzen Berriberri (Zuchelli)”–this roughly translates to

“Gangrene of the lower bowel (rectum/colon) after a violent or severe attack of pain to the head, loins & lower back [like]  beriberi”   



The account Schnurrer is referring to as  “Gangran des Mastdarms nach heftigen Kopf u lenden schmerzen Berriberri (Zuchelli)” is an event first experienced by an early Protestant missionary in Africa, Antonio Zuchelli, who after a brief stop in Brazil in 1797 removed to Africa where he resided from 1698 to 1702 as part of the Protestant missions group (reference and links below).  


He returned to Venice in late 1703, early 1704, and spent the next seven years writing about the experiences he had along the Congo River between 1698 to 1702.  In 1712, these experiences were published as a popular "Viaggi e Relazioni . . . " (Travels and relations. . . ) account, entitled Relazioni del viaggio e missione di Congo nell’Etiopia inferiore occidentale, del P. Antonio Zucchelli da Gradisca, predicatore cappuccino della provincia di Stiria, e già missionario apostolico in detto regno ecc., consecrate alla sacra ces. reale maestà di Eleonora Maddalena Teresa, vedova del gran Leopoldo. (1712 ,a Venezia, presso Bartolomeo Giavarina, 4o, 438pp.)  

This book covers Zuchelli’s missionary expeditions to five parts of the world.  He traveled to Brazil and then Africa, making his way inland along the Congo, residing in what they called the Province of Sogno just south of Zaire (these missions go back quite a bit, see some of the links below).


Zucchelli remained at this place for several years, reported his experiences later in the ninth to thirteenth relations he published.  Like most missionary reports, these writings were heavily devoted to the culture customs of the local inhabitants . Throughout this recounts are included descriptions of the nearby villages and kingdoms (countries) he traveled to and a description of the local economy and businesses utilizing natural resources, the local climate and ecology, and the various other cultures nearby with descriptions of their villages.

Zuchelli’s description of the people and the local health and disease matters wouldn’t again be matched in as much detail pertaining to Ebola-like outbreaks until the early 1800s, when a number of ships made it their goal to travel deep into the heart of Africa by way of the Congo River.  

To understand the epidemiological history of these travels, it helps to understand how diseases were described and explained at the time.  As much as possible due to the early Greek writings, climate was associated with disease, along with temperament, our physique, our activities, our diet and waters, the way we dress and follow our passions, the ways in which we keep our living and working conditions clean or not.   On board ships, spending months on the waters, besides fever and occasional infectious diseases measles, our health depended upon our diet, and a poor diet resulted in scurvy and beri beri.  But usually whenever a ship reaches land, these diseases pass due to an improved diet (fresh fruit and vegetables).   Such was not the case at times along the Congo River, and the beri beri caused by poor diet and the body wasting away didn’t apparently ease completely upon landing.  Instead, it re-erupted in its worst form, with the appearances of decaying skin and flesh, the forming of blisters, bleeding, and bubos worse than those of the plague.  

The pictures in this set are of traditional, severe beri beri as well as the dry and wet gangrenes common to these settings, which to any physicians first seeing these outbreaks would resemble the other outbreaks he was already more familiar with.  The Ebola of today resembles the beri beri and various forms of gangrene of the past (Zuchelli’s description is what led Schnurrer to classify it as a gangrene, following somewhat Erasmus Darwin’s disease classification tree of decades before).

Of course, there are many other forms of flesh destroying diseases in very wet and humid living settings.   But what makes this condition unique is that it is just on the Congo River according to Schnurrer’s map, on the route to Zaire.   Schnurrer fails to notes such a gangrene anywhere else on his map.  

Later evidence for this claim based on Zuchelli’s writing and Schnurrer’s map can be found in the 19th century writings [next topic for this set or historical Ebola reviews].  

There are two early 19th century voyages made by two British military captains that provide very convincing descriptions of the outbreak of this deadly disease.  It would also be noted to emerge further north in the regions around Guinea, from where it is erupting today.  This part of Africa was most important for slave trade of course, which may even describe how and why Ebolavrus managed to make its way across the central climate belt to parts of Africa well north of the Congo and the Equatorial Line.    

Animal host migration can also be used to explain this migration, but whether or not such a trans-equator route was traveled back then remains uncertain at this point in the study.  


For more: 

see another of my blog pages on  this– ;).


See also: an NIH article and complete book chapter devoted to this map also available for review at:   and 


(For beginning reference, see in Google Books, The encyclopedia of missions, by Rev. Edwin Munsell Bliss, — p, 646, listing of Protestant Missions writings, has Zuchelli, A[notonio]. Merkwurdige Missions- und Reisebe schreibung nach Congo. Aus dem Italienischen.
Frankf. a.M.. 1715.


For more on Antonio Zuchelli.


Antonio Zuchelli’s biography [in Italian] is at 


Relazioni del viaggio e missione di Congo nell’Etiopia inferiore occidentale by Antonio Zucchelli. 1 edition – first published in 1712 []  


On the related missions in the Province of Sogno, see Black history writer John Coleman De Graft-Johnson’s important work from 1954.  African Glory: The Story of Vanished Negro Civilizations. 

Early Missions

Hakluytus posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes: contayning a history of the Worlde in Sea Voyages and Land Travelles . . . By Samuel Purchas . ca. 1525 – . 

The History of the Kingdom of Kongo.  ("The Mani Sogno was the first Kongo nobleman to embrace the Christian faith.")

More contemporay renderings of this region:

And on Google Maps:,13.1358646,10z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x1979facf9a7546bd:0x4c63e5eac93f141 

See on Scoop.itMedical GIS Guide