The Ebola virus killed at least 11,000 people when it was at epidemic level in West Africa from 2013-16.

Why did it emerge from other primates - such as apes and monkeys - and infect people? Why did it emerge in that particular place? Did environmental change made by humans contribute?

Massey University Associate Professor Dr David Hayman has worked internationally at the interface between human and ecological health. His talk on September 25 will cover what the virus is, why it kills an average 50 per cent of the people infected, where it came from and some ideas about why it emerged.

The talk is in Whanganui's Davis Lecture Theatre at 7.30pm. It will cost $4 for science forum members, and $5 for others. There will be supper to follow.

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It's provided by the Whanganui Science Forum, which recently explored climate change and proteins made from plants.

Hayman is particularly interested in developing research programmes that improve both public health and wildlife conservation outcomes.

More generally, he is keen to know how ecological degradation can lead to an increase in disease in humans and animals, and how to fix that.

He is the co-director of Massey's Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health Laboratory.

He has worked on a range of infectious diseases, focusing mainly on those that are highly infectious (e.g. Measles) or lethal to animals and people (e.g. Ebola and rabies).