Sun., July 13, 2014 6:15am (EDT)

Ebola Invades 'The New York Times' Sunday Crossword
By Marc Silver
Updated: 2 weeks ago

Cross-word Puzzle
Cross-word Puzzle
Last Sunday I literally was clueless about a New York Times crossword puzzle clue: "Menace named after an African river." The answer was five letters long. WHAT WERE THEY?!?!

I finally did figure out the answer from the crossing words: Ebola. And that's how I learned the origin of the name of this frightening virus, which is making headlines this year because of an outbreak in West Africa.

I was curious whether other infamous global health ailments have appeared in the Times crossword. So I asked puzzle editor (and NPR puzzle master) Will Shortz. "Crosswords tend to avoid unpleasant subjects like diseases but occasionally the names do slip in unavoidably," he wrote in an email.

Shortz graciously provided a list of all the New York Times crossword clues he's published for Ebola and other diseases on a short list I sent.

Here they are, with the number of times they've appeared. They're kind of like a haiku of disease and they definitely are enlightening. So that's what malaria means!

POLIO


Vaccine target [2]

Sabin's study

Challenge for F.D.R.

F.D.R.'s affliction

Salk vaccine target

Bygone epidemic cause

Salk's conquest [3]

F.D.R. affliction

Old disease

Salk's target

MALARIA


Modern term for "Roman fever"

Fever cause

Tropical woe [2]

Sub-Saharan scourge

"Bad air," literally

TB


This has never appeared in a New York Times crossword because answers must have at least three letters.

MERS


Also a no-go because MERS is plural French for "seas." So that's what the clue would be.

SARS


Outbreak of 2003

2003 disease scare

Headline-making illness of 2002-03

Modern epidemic

EBOLA


Menace named after an African river

African virus [5]

Virus that arose in the Congo

"The Hot Zone" virus [5]

Virus named for a river [3]

"The Hot Zone" topic [2]

Jungle menace

Deadly virus [5]

Fatal virus

Nasty virus

Virulent virus

Dangerous strain [2]

Dreaded virus

African scourge

African threat

Zaire menace


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