The virus has killed at least 961 people so far, with 1,779 suspected and confirmed cases in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.
There is no cure for the virus, but it is possible to beat. The fatality rate for this year’s Ebola outbreak hovers just under 60%, though that rate is expected to rise.
Saa Sabas, a former medical worker from Guinea, has spoken to various news outlets about his experience with the virus.
Sabas told Vice that he contracted the virus while caring for another Ebola patient. He went to the hospital when he came down with a persistent fever of up to 104 degrees and was told that he tested positive for Ebola.
Here’s how he described it in the Vice interview:
This fever lasted two days; then the third day I got a diarrhoea. That lasted four days, until, on the seventh day, I got dysentery. Then finally I had hiccups for four days. I was very worried at that point.
… I remember also that my throat was so sore that I couldn’t eat. I’ve had fever before, and I’ve had diarrhoea before. All of that, of course, made me weak. But the hiccuping stage really scared me. I’ve heard that lots of people die at this stage of the illness.
Ebola can easily be mistaken for the flu at first, but it progresses quickly, often causing internal and external bleeding, organ damage, and death.
Sabas told the Nigerian Tribune that he was treated with oral medications and infusions and fed well. Over time, he started to feel better.
This kind of supportive care — replenishing patients’ fluids, fighting secondary infections when necessary, and keeping a patient alive long enough for the immune system to fight back against Ebola — is thought to greatly improve outcomes. In the end, after about 13 days of sickness, Sabas survived a disease that many people see as a death sentence.
Once he left the hospital, doctors gave him a certificate noting that he was no longer sick so that other people would not fear him. Ebola is highly stigmatised in Africa because people fear contamination.
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