When the deadly Ebola broke out in Uganda, not many knew how far and how quickly it would spread. But it did. It also reached Fatu Kekula’s family in Liberia.
Her father, mother, sister and cousin all contracted the deadly virus and, to her horror, local hospitals refused to take them in.
Not the one to give up on her loved ones so easily, the final-year nursing student decided to take care of them herself. Covering every exposed part of her body in trash bags and wearing a mask, she set to the task of single-handedly taking care of them.
She would wear socks, cover them with trash bags, tied them in a knot, put on a pair of rubber boots and then finally cover them with another set of trash bags over the boots. She would then wear plastic jacket and several pairs of gloves, cover her hair in stockings and cover that with another trash bags and finish off her "uniform" with a mask firmly in place.
She put each one of her family members in an individual room, fed them, cleaned them and gave them medications that she obtained from the local pharmacy. She would often call her local doctor for consultation as well; the doctor refused to come personally.
"I cried many times," she said. "I said 'God, you want to tell me I'm going to lose my entire family?'"
Kekula got her answer when one by one her family members started showing signs of improvement. She could not save her cousin, but the other three members of her family recovered in time.
Her success story started spreading and international aid workers heard about Kekula's "trash bag method." They started teaching it to other West Africans who can't get into hospitals and don't have protective gear of their own.
"Essentially this is a tale of how communities are doing things for themselves," says UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe.
Ebola virus disease, aka Ebola hemorrhagic fever, was declared “one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind” by the World Health Organization.
So far, no medical cure for Ebola has been found. And while an experimental treatment ZMapp is around, there is no proof that it cures the Ebola disease.
Patients are mostly quarantined and their symptoms are controlled through oral or intravenous fluids containing electrolytes.