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Lives Touched by Ebola

It seems almost everyone here is affected by Ebola and has lost someone in the family.

In a small village of 68 inhabitants, a quarter of them have been decimated and seven survived Ebola.


Watta’s son, 11-year-old Alfred has Ebola while the mother is negative. He was exposed to his brother who died of Ebola. He is now in the Confirmed Ward quite ill. His mother who was admitted with him in the Suspected Ward last evening called over the fence checking on him before she showered and was discharged from the Suspected Ward this morning. Alfred is roomed with 14-year-old George who is similarly quite ill. George’s mother died of Ebola.

The sickest person is 14-year-old Munyah who has been bleeding from his gums and too weak to take his medications. His grandmother died from Ebola.


Satta, Esther’s child was brought in yesterday. Esther died last week. Satta was confirmed to be infected this afternoon and moved into the Confirmed Ward. Twenty-two-year-old Nuwah will take care of her.


Andrew whose wife died from Ebola is doing well. He said he is strong and will win the fight against Ebola.


Young Solomon and Joe will recover; they are now quite rambunctious walking around and following us; Joe asking for another pair of slippers. Christine’s father came to visit her bringing her oranges and soft drinks. When she started to ask for her favorite foods, we had the feeling that she might be getting better. She asked for cassava leaves and pawpaw a few days ago. She lost her mother and brother to Ebola, now she only has her father. The visitor hut is partitioned right in the middle with a wall and wire mesh; visitors are physically separated from the patients by about 2 meters. When Christine was brought there, she had her back turned to her father and when he spoke she recognized his voice and turned around and began to cry, “I want to go home.”


Her father told her she has to eat and drink well and get stronger before she could go home, she nodded. Sitting there on the table, she looked fragile and frail.

The Visitor's Hut

Outside, the sun baked the red earth and the gravels lining the ground of the ETU reflected the sun’s rays making the air even sultrier. We made rounds this morning with the USPHS folks. Because there were so many trainees, there was a jam in the donning and doffing processes and some of us were stuck in the ETU longer than necessary.


In the late afternoon, I sat on the back-steps of the changing rooms to have a quiet moment. All of a sudden someone yelled, “A snake, a snake, kill it!”


A three-foot greenish brown snake slithered from the Stock Room a few feet from where I sat, went under the fence and in a flash crossed the red dirt road as a piece of wood was hurled over the fence narrowly missing it. Two grave diggers happened to walk up the path at the end of their work day and one was running towards it as though he was going to step on it.


“Don’t kill it, let it go!” I said.


But it was faster than the man and it disappeared into the thicket of cassava bushes even before he could reach it.


He asked,” Why don’t you want me to kill it? I can eat it.”


I didn’t want to say that death has been so pervasive here, it would be good to spare a life. Instead I said that the snake might turn around and bite him.


“Oh,” He said. “Thanks for coming here to fight Ebola for our families.”

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