Editorial: To hasten Ebola containment, mobilize survivors

International Journal of Epidemiology
Volume 43 Issue 6 December 2014

To hasten Ebola containment, mobilize survivors
Zena A Stein1,2, Jack Ume Tocco1,*, Joanne E Mantell1 and Raymond A Smith1
Author Affiliations
1HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, Division of Gender, Sexuality and Health, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
2Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
The current Ebola outbreak is unique in its magnitude and its dispersion in dense, mobile populations. Physician and nurse responders face high mortality, and foreign aid in the form of medical supplies and staff continues to be unequal to the scope of the problem. Fear and loss have overwhelmed affected communities, already among the poorest in the world and still recovering from brutal civil wars. While the number of Ebola cases in Liberia appears to be on the decline, Ebola infections in Sierra Leone and Guinea continue to increase.1 That the response to the epidemic be swift and massive is a matter of life and an unknown number of deaths.

Survivors of Ebola infection are valuable resources still largely overlooked in the struggle to contain the epidemic. With a case recovery rate of around 30% at the present time for the current West African epidemic,2 survivors already number thousands. There are several reasons why Ebola survivors may be critical to controlling the epidemic.

First, and most importantly, the recovered have developed immunity to the current strain of Ebola and therefore are able to care for the sick with …