Before we had Zika virus on our minds there was Ebola. 2015 saw the most devastating human epidemic of ebolavirus ever recorded. This outbreak began in December 2013 in the forests of Guinea and spread rapidly into neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, reaching Nigeria, the USA and even Glasgow, Scotland in the UK.
To date, nearly 30,000 cases have been reported, leading to over 10,000 deaths. Thankfully, it appears that all three countries have interrupted human-to-human transmission and the outbreak is likely to be declared over in the very near future. One of the major factors in turning the tide against the virus was the international volunteer effort, which included dedicated medical staff and lab workers who diagnosed, treated and ultimately led to the outbreaks’ eradication.
In this episode, we talk with four members of the CVR who went to Sierra Leone to help out with the ebola virus epidemic during 2015. PhD students Dr Caroline Chauche and Navapon Techakriengkral alongside postdocs Dr Agnieska Szemiel and Dr Chris Davis all worked in diagnostic labs in the West African country at different times during the outbreak. All four were awarded the UK Ebola medal recently, alongside fellow PhD students Steve Welch and Gillian Slack. Here they tell us their story about what it was really like to help out during the peak of the epidemic.
To keep track of the outbreak, the WHO Ebola situation reports can be found below:
Edited on 9th February 2016 to change the date of the beginning of the Ebola epidemic from December 2014 to December 2013.