2015 Photo Contest, General News, 1st prize

Ebola in Sierra Leone


Pete Muller

Prime for National Geographic / The Washington Post

26 November, 2014

The Kabia family mourns as the body of their one-day-old baby is removed by a member of a safe burial team, outside their home in the Hill Cut neighborhood of Freetown. While the baby was not a confirmed Ebola case, the government of Sierra Leone had mandated that all deaths in heavily Ebola-affected districts be treated as potential Ebola cases and buried in accordance with strict safety procedures.

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
24.0 mm
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

This image is collected in