2015 Photo Contest, General News, 1st prize

Ebola in Sierra Leone


Pete Muller

Prime for National Geographic / The Washington Post

29 November, 2014

Molai Kamara, about 12 years old, sits alone following a ceremony in which Ebola survivors were discharged from the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center. Around 55 survivors received food supplies, and boarded buses to return home, but Molai sat alone, still sick with other ailments and with nowhere to go. He had lost his entire family to the virus. While he eventually tested negative for Ebola, he continued to suffer from ulcers and had great difficulty walking. Later, Molai was transferred to a nearby hospital to receive additional care, while administrators searched for someone to look after him.

The first cases of a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone were reported in May. There is no cure for Ebola, and the fatality rate can be as high as 90 percent. The virus causes high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as internal and external bleeding. It is highly contagious, being passed on by sweat, blood and other bodily fluids. Extreme care has to be taken to avoid infection while treating patients, and in burying victims. The healthcare system in Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries, was not equipped to cope with the disease, and assistance from foreign NGOs became crucial. By the end of the year, 2,758 people had died of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The disease also ravaged neighboring Guinea and Liberia, with 7,880 deaths reported across the three countries overall in 2014.

About the photographer

Pete Muller

Pete Muller (b. 1982) is an American photographer and researcher whose interdisciplinary work addresses masculinity, conflict and human ecology. His ongoing project, A Tale of...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
35.0 mm
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

This image is collected in