Ebola Survivors May Be the Key to Treatment—For Almost Any Disease

A group of volunteer medical workers carry the bodies of Ebola victims to a car in order to bury them in Kptema graveyard in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 24, 2014. MOHAMMED ELSHAMY/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

A group of volunteer medical workers carry the bodies of Ebola victims to a car in order to bury them in Kptema graveyard in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 24, 2014. MOHAMMED ELSHAMY/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

From Erika Check Hayden at Wired

LINA MOSES SENSED the ghost of Ebola as soon as her Land Cruiser entered the gate at Kenema Government Hospital. More than a hundred people had died in the treatment center here, an epicenter of the epidemic in Sierra Leone. A doctor who had treated them was buried on a hill overlooking the compound. When Ebola erupted in Kenema in May 2014, Moses was working here as an epidemiologist. She had never seen an Ebola patient. She could have fled home to New Orleans. Instead she stayed, fighting the outbreak and watching patients and friends die one by one.

Eventually Moses returned to the US. But now, two months later, she and one of the people she’d worked with, a physician named John Schieffelin, were back. Moses’ driver eased the Land Cruiser up to her old lab, a single-story building tucked in the corner of the hospital compound. Workers appeared and started to help unload supplies. Moses, meanwhile, stepped out into the searing midday heat and stretched her legs. She saw six people sitting on the concrete steps of an office across from her lab. Some had been nurses and researchers at Kenema; a couple were part of a newly formed survivors’ union. That’s how they’d heard about Moses’ mission.

All six had been infected with Ebola and survived. Hypothetically, that made them immune to the disease. That’s why Moses had returned—to harness that immunity to try to ensure Ebola never killed anyone again.

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