Patient Zero in Outbreak Was Guinean Toddler
LONDON (AP) — In the Guinean village where the current West African Ebola outbreak began, 14 graves mark the spot where the lethal virus began to spiral out of control.
International aid workers who recently visited Meliandou say nothing is normal anymore and that families have been ripped apart by the devastating toll of the virus.
The first known victim of the current outbreak was 2-year-old Emile Ouamouno, who lived in the picturesque forest village with his parents and three sisters, including 4-year-old Philomene. The boy fell sick last December with a mysterious illness that caused fever, black stools and vomiting. About a week after his death, Philomene got sick and died. She was shortly followed by the children’s pregnant mother and grandmother.
It would be months before international health officials identified little Emile as West Africa’s “patient zero” in a deadly outbreak that continues to double in size every few weeks. So far, Ebola has been blamed for the deaths of nearly 5,000 people among more than 10,000 cases, the vast majority in West Africa.