While the unprecedented spread of Ebola continues plaguing West Africa, an image of one boy has captured a wave of hope for the people of Sierra Leone.
Vandy, a 7-year-old who contracted the virus more than a month ago, is now Ebola-free after struggling through serious symptoms of the potentially fatal virus, according to UNICEF.
"Little Vandy provided laughter at the most unlikely moments inside that ward," a volunteer nurse told UNICEF. "I’m so happy for his recovery."
Vandy is one of a handful of success stories UNICEF featured on its blog, highlighting stories of survival amid widespread uncertainty.
Sierra Leone has been one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak, with several hundred killed due to the virus, the Guardian reported. Unwarranted blame has only made it more difficult for the people of Sierra Leone to combat the disease, as the virus is new to the region: Health workers have been stigmatized and threatened, while conspiracies point blame and distrust at the country's government.
On Saturday, Guinea closed its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia in an attempt to halt the spread of the epidemic.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a congressional hearing last Thursday that the current crisis is on pace to infect more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined.
"If you leave behind even a single burning ember, it's like a forest fire," he said of the difficulty in containing the disease, according to the Associated Press. "It flares back up."
But UNICEF is remaining hopeful. As a guest contributor on the organization's blog wrote last week, Sierra Leone is in a "unique" situation, as rates of survival continue to climb with the number of new infections. As of last Thursday, 143 people who had previously been infected were declared free of Ebola -- a disease that kills up to 90 percent of patients, according to the World Health Organization.
To support UNICEF and its efforts to stop the spread of Ebola, visit the organization's website.
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