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Survey among survivors of the 1995 Ebola epidemic in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo: their feelings and experiences

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Summary This study describes experiences of the survivors of the 1995 Ebola epidemic in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of the survivors in our sample had cared for a sick family member before becoming ill themselves, and most had never heard of Ebola before they developed symptoms and therefore did not suspect that they were infected by the virus. Fear, denial and shame were their principal initial feelings. After release from hospital, survivors were abandoned by family or friends more often than they had expected. Belief in god was an important aid to all of them. Their most negative experiences were witnessing other people dying in the isolation ward of the Kikwit General Hospital, and the reluctance of hospital personnel to treat them. During Ebola outbreaks more attention should be given to the psychosocial implications of such an epidemic. Information campaigns should include antidiscrimination messages and more psychosocial support should be given to patients and their families.
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Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo; Ebola; Kikwit; survivors

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium 2: Kikwit General Hospital, Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo

Publication date: November 1, 1998

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