ebola_in_a_stew_of_fear.docx

Apr 24th, 2015
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Ebola in a Stew of Fear"Bush meat?" I asked. The food in front of me smelled delicious, but the mention of bush meat in the stew evoked a twinge of fear. Could it be fruit bat? Chimpanzee? Both can harbor Ebola virus.Our four-member team had just filmed a documentary in a remote rural village near the Guinea border. Shaded by the thatched roof of an open-air rice kitchen, we were sitting down to share a communal meal. Awaiting us was a tempting Liberian stew of cassava, pepper - and bush meat.My hosts smiled. Even here, an hour's trek from the nearest road, and a 2-day drive from the capital city of Monrovia, news of the Ebola outbreak hung in the air. "Don't worry," they assured me. No fruit bat. No chimpanzee. I hesitated a moment longer, but I didn't want to seem mistrustful. So I dipped my spoon into the pot and savored the spicy flavors.The journey to Liberia in June had been uncertain. The international media had been mostly quiet about the slow burn of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone in early March, when I began planning the trip. But I soon started following reports of Ebola cases through personal contacts and Liberian news sources. In late May, as I was preparing to leave, information in the Western press and on government websites was still spotty.In late July, when word came that two American health care workers in Liberia had become infected, the outbreak suddenly drew global headlines labeling it an "epidemic." Ignited

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