Ebola Is A Deadly Virus — But Doctors Say It Can Be Beaten
Saidu Kanneh was given a hero’s welcome last week when he walked into a community meeting about Ebola in a tiny village of mud huts in the Kissi Kama region of Sierra Leone. Kanneh was diagnosed with Ebola early in July, was treated for 12 days in a Doctors Without Borders hospital and overcame the disease.
"God has made me as an example to survive and then get into the community to talk to my people," says Kanneh, who’s about 40 years old and runs a health clinic near the border with Guinea and Liberia. In treating Ebola cases, he too caught the disease — he thinks he may have been infected from contact with the bodily fluids that transmit the disease, perhaps because of a gap between his rubber gloves and his shirt sleeve.
Kanneh’s message is that not every patient dies.
And there are signs of hope: changes taking place that could be key to stopping the West African outbreak that began in March and has so far seen 1,032 cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with more than 600 deaths.
"There is no cure but that does not mean we can’t treat it with success," says Tim Jagatic,a Canadian physician at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kailahun where Kanneh was treated — a series of tents set up in a field.
He says the human body can figure out how to combat it: “This is just a virus. It’s a virus like influenza. When we have influenza we know we stay home, take our fluids and let our bodies do the rest. That’s the same thing that we are doing here.
Top: Sylvester Jusu, a Red Cross volunteer, wears a suit and goggles to protect himself from contracting Ebola.
Bottom left: The burial team waits outside the house of someone who may have died of Ebola.
Bottom right: The team is sprayed with disinfectant after removing the body.
Photos by Tommy Trenchard for NPR