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Ebola's struggle for life and death in eastern Congo



BENI, Congo (AP) – They walked like astronauts with a fallen comrade through the dense forest. Their steps were slow and intentional, as if they were running on the moon. A few men were waiting at a freshly dug grave and checking their smartphones. Without ceremony, the body of Mussa Kathembo was lowered into the ground.

This is Beni, eastern Congo, the epicenter of the recent disease in this war-torn part of the world: Ebola. Kathembo was one of more than 1,700 victims of the almost one-year outbreak of the disease.

Many people in the outbreak area do not believe that Ebola exists. They are unfamiliar with the disease and blame witchcraft, politicians and foreigners for the deaths. This makes it difficult and dangerous for the employees to contain the outbreak. And if someone is infected, it is often too late.

When Kathembo fell ill, he was taken from his home to the Ebola Treatment Center, a labyrinth of white tents and plastic isolation pods on the grounds of Beni's Hospital. Since he and his ill wife were treated top to bottom by health workers in protective suits, their home was quickly turned into a vaccination center by local health officials and the World Health Organization.

relatives, neighbors, and anyone else who might have come into contact with the couple, stood by to receive the experimental but effective Ebola vaccine. Getting there was the goal, but finding contacts is a challenge in Beni, where it is well known that five people ride a motorbike taxi or push 30 passengers into a 1

0-seater van.

Back in the treatment center, 24 years Old Ivette, a mother of four, slowly recovered from Ebola when she mourned her husband Salomon.

Kathembo exhaled one last time in a nearby isolation cube. The heart monitor stopped and his body was wrapped in fabric and plastic before being taken to the cemetery in the forest outside the city.

Asiya, his wife, also died. But her 2-month-old daughter Lahya has been tested negative for Ebola and will survive.

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