Ebola survivors may be critical in stopping the virus. They can’t pass it on to others or get it again. Because of their immunity, survivors can help the newly afflicted without becoming ill. This allows them to find new and creative ways to help.
Survivor Decontee Davis works at a child care center in Monrovia, Liberia. The children are orphans, and come from homes where family members have contracted or died from Ebola. That means they also may have the virus and could infect others if they aren’t properly treated.
Davis and nine other survivors know the first signs of the virus and carefully monitor the children for symptoms. Sadly, some die from the disease, but others go on to become survivors and caregivers themselves.
“Nothing says more about the resilience of the human spirit than Ebola survivors who become role models for their communities.”
— CDC Director Tom Frieden
After his battle with Ebola, Stephen Kpoto became a contact tracer in West Point, Liberia. He checks on people who have interacted with an Ebola patient to assure they don’t develop symptoms. After watching 39 people around him die of the virus, Kpoto speaks with urgency about the realities of the disease.
“If you get there [to the Ebola Treatment Unit] early, get early treatment, you can survive,” he told a Washington Post reporter. Although Kpoto relates his experiences to others in his community, some are still skeptical and see Ebola as a scam or myth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the stigma against Ebola survivors discourages sick people from seeking treatment and makes the important task of contact tracing even harder. As a result, more people who have come in contact with Ebola may spread it unknowingly.