Time's 'Person' of the Year: Ebola Fighters

Ebola fighters in West Africa are battling the largest outbreak in history, and the virus may be starting to slow

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Time magazine's selection for Person of the Year 2014 isn't just one outstanding man or woman — it's the thousands of men and women who have fought what is now the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Time announced today that it has chosen the Ebola fighters as its "person" of the year. But the fight against Ebola isn't over. These men and women are still working to stop the spread of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola isn't new to West Africa, wrote Time Editor Nancy Gibbs. Earlier in 2014, though, Ebola stepped out of the background and onto the main stage, sickening thousands. The need for health workers spiked.

"Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one," Gibbs wrote.

That's where the Time people of the year came in. Government and hospital resources were stretched thin in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — the three countries most affected by the outbreak.

"But the people in the field, the special forces of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan's Purse and many others from all over the world fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams," Gibbs wrote.

Those people fought an outbreak that, as of Dec. 10, has taken the lives of 6,331 people and sickened nearly 18,000 more, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And though the outbreak continues to sicken many, the efforts of these health workers may have slowed the spread of the virus. According to the latest WHO reports, new cases have slowed in Liberia and are starting to stabilize in Guinea. The virus in Sierra Leone, however, continues to spread rapidly.

The Ebola virus — which causes Ebola virus disease — spreads through the blood or other infected bodily fluids of Ebola patients. Patients can only spread the virus if they are showing symptoms, which include high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding.

Review Date: 
December 10, 2014
Last Updated:
December 12, 2014