Meet the Ebola workers battling a virus in a war zone

Nature's Amy Maxmen reports from the front line of the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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A crack runs down one window of the armoured vehicle transporting epidemiologist Mamoudou Harouna Djingarey through Beni, a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed nearly 1,500 people in the region since August, but it is not the only danger that Djingarey and other Ebola responders must confront.

The window cracked on 5 June, when townspeople in Beni hurled rocks at a convoy of vehicles carrying staff from the World Health Organization (WHO), the DRC Ministry of Health and other authorities. Such clashes neither deter nor bewilder Djingarey, a programme manager at the WHO. “We just need to ask them why they throw stones,” he says. The crowd that attacked the convoy was upset that officials and health workers drove through a checkpoint without stopping to wash their hands in chlorinated water, as local residents have been ordered to do.

“We must also respect the rules,” Djingarey says. After all, he says, Ebola responders need to win the trust of those they are trying to help.

By: Amy Maxmen/Nature News

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