It took a community to bring a “miraculously young” Ebola patient home

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If you don’t subscribe to the Democratic Republic of Congo Health Ministry updates (probably not, right?) here’s a reason to do so. Dr. Daniel Lucey, who volunteered twice to treat patients during the West Africa crisis suggested this way of keeping track of the current outbreak, so Science Speaks does. Often the news it brings is depressing, scary, indeterminate, or all three. More often than not the updates bring a glimpse of what it’s like to respond to a high-fatality outbreak in a war zone that reads more like a suspense movie script than how we like to think a public health response should play out.

But sometimes, it brings a story like this that shows the difference that an invested community can make.

It still isn’t a happy story. If the response to this outbreak of Ebola in the country where it was discovered and that has seen more outbreaks than any other, were not taking place in a war zone, it might have a better beginning. If attempts to develop a vaccine had been supported from the time the disease was discovered and hadn’t been abandoned two decades ago, it almost certainly would be a different story.

As it is, the story is about a child whose mother came to an Ebola treatment center and died while giving birth. Born Oct. 31, the child became an Ebola treatment center patient six days later. With 24-hour-a-day bedside care, the child recovered. Pivotal to that care were former patients, who, having gained immunity from the virus, can wear less restrictive protective gear, and pitch in now as Ebola Treatment Center “nannies.”

“They play a fundamental role in caring for sick children who need more attention and a reassuring presence at their side during treatment,” the update explains.

Discharged from the treatment center Wednesday, the update says, the child came home to her father and aunt.

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