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On 6 December 2013 a two-year-old boy called Emile Ouamouno died of a serious illness in a small village in Guinea. A month later Emile’s three-year-old sister, his mother and grandmother were all dead.

This was the start of an Ebola epidemic that swept through West Africa in 2014, killing over 11,000 people and infecting nearly 30,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) called it ‘the largest and the most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976’. An Ebola infection results in high fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, impaired kidney and liver function and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding; fatality rates can be as high as 90%. There are no licensed treatments or vaccines for the disease, and in August 2014 the WHO declared the West African Ebola outbreak ‘a Public Health Emergency of International Concern’.

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