'Miracle' mum-to-be in Sierra Leone tells of Ebola recovery joy

June 13, 2014 by Rod Mac Johnson

A pregnant women identified as the first person to be cured of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone spoke Friday of her joy at her "miracle" recovery.

Victoria Yillah was discharged from hospital in the eastern city of Kenema on Sunday after hovering for weeks between life and death battling the tropical disease, which has killed more than 200 people since an outbreak in neighbouring Guinea.

"I am thankful to God to have survived the ordeal. I can hardly say more, I am overjoyed," she told the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.

Health officials in Kenema, 320 kilmetres (200 miles) from the west African nation's capital, Freetown, say no other Sierra Leonean had been given the all-clear before Yillah's recovery, although three more unnamed survivors have since been announced.

"Victoria Yillah was among (46) people tested and confirmed as having the Ebola disease. She tested positive three times, three weeks ago," district medical officer Mohamed Vandi told the station.

Crowds gathered outside the broadcaster's headquarters in Kenema as Yillah was interviewed, with wellwishers chanting that she was the "miracle woman of the year".

"We are thankful that we didn't lose her. The family is grateful to God and to all others that fought to save her life," her husband Saidu said.

Ebola can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea—and in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.

No medicine or vaccine exists for the disease, which is named after a small river in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Medical aid organisation Doctors Without Borders says the chances of surviving Ebola are greatly improved, however, if patients are kept hydrated and receive treatment for secondary infections.

Yillah has not revealed her age, or the date her baby is due, but is thought to be in her 30s.

A doctor at the hospital who asked not to be named said her survival was down to a combination of a strong immune system and excellent care.

Public gatherings banned

Sierra Leone raised its death toll from Ebola on Thursday to 17, announcing five new deaths over the previous 48 hours.

The health ministry said the country was dealing with 46 lab-confirmed and 76 suspect cases, most in the eastern district of Kailahun, where the first patient was identified on May 24.

The government effectively quarantined the entire district on Thursday, closing schools until further notice and ordering the medical screening of anyone arriving or leaving by road.

"All public gatherings and cultural activities are banned and cross-border trade fairs halted until the Ebola virus is contained," a statement from the government said.

Sierra Leonean media reported on Monday that panicked health workers were abandoning their posts in the area.

Neighbouring Guinea has been struggling since the beginning of the year with the most severe strain of the virus, known as Zaire Ebola, which has had a fatality rate of up to 90 percent in past outbreaks, although the current rate is closer to 65 percent.

The World Health Organization said last week it had so far registered 328 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Guinea, including 208 deaths, with 21 deaths registered between May 29 and June 1 alone.

The virus appears to have resurfaced in neighbouring Liberia, which earlier this year had seen 12 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola, including nine deaths, but had not seen any new cases for nearly two months.

A person believed to have been infected in Kailahun came across the border and died in Foya, WHO said, pointing out that the dead body was taken back into Sierra Leone to be buried.

Explore further: Sierra Leone doubles Ebola death toll

Related Stories

Sierra Leone doubles Ebola death toll

June 9, 2014
Sierra Leone doubled its death toll from the highly contagious Ebola virus on Monday, as international aid organisations struggled to contain the deadly epidemic gripping west Africa.

Sierra Leone raises Ebola death toll

June 2, 2014
Sierra Leone raised its death toll from the highly contagious Ebola virus on Monday, sparking fears that the deadly epidemic gripping west Africa is spreading.

Guinea Ebola death toll rises above 200, WHO reports (Update)

June 4, 2014
More than 200 people have died from the highly contagious Ebola virus in Guinea, making it one of the worst ever outbreaks of the disease, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Sierra Leone reports two Ebola deaths, 12 cases

May 30, 2014
Health officials in Sierra Leone say there have been two deaths from Ebola and a dozen other cases of the deadly disease.

Sierra Leone declares Ebola emergency in district

June 12, 2014
The Sierra Leone government announced a state of emergency in the Kailahun district from the outbreak of the Ebola virus which has claimed 17 lives in this West African nation, banning public gatherings and closing schools.

Sierra Leone raises Ebola death toll, confirms new cases

May 30, 2014
Sierra Leone on Friday raised its death toll from Ebola and doubled the number of confirmed cases of the virus amid fears the deadly epidemic gripping West Africa is spreading.

Recommended for you

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.