Recent research conducted by a joint IRD−Université de la Méditerranée team showed that nearly half the children in Senegal were carrying bacteria of the species Tropheryma whipplei . Still insufficiently known today, this microbe is the pathogen of Whipple disease, a serious infection that can affect all the victim’s organs. Onset is generally signalled by pain in joints followed by chronic diarrhoea, weight loss and sometimes neurological consequences. The researchers fear that T. whipplei is a pathogen that is emerging in Sub-Saharan Africa. The high rate of this bacterial contamination means that Whipple disease is likely to become a major public health problem for these countries in the coming years. This investigation is a first step towards the detection and treatment of people who have contracted the disease.