Chilling Photos From the Front Lines of the Ebola Outbreak
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has left much of the region quarantined and inaccessible, making the tragedy seem all the more distant. It’s only through the work of photographers like Pete Muller that we can glimpse what life is like for communities struggling to cope with the deadliest outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976.
Since its appearance in Guinea in May, the contagion has spread to neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. More than 3,700 people have been infected so far, and about half have died. Muller covered the outbreak for the Washington Post in the Kailahun District of Sierra Leone, the region of the country hardest hit. His gripping photographs of burial teams, armed checkpoints and villages living with the virus in their midst put a human face on what is, for many, a seemingly abstract and distant story.
“People are in a state of serious fear in these affected areas as is, and then you have deaths,” he says. “There’s frustration, too, in the fact that the government of Sierra Leone has mandated that all deaths that aren’t clearly attributable to some particular cause be treated as potential Ebola cases. In some instances, these burial teams are being called to go through all of these very cumbersome and isolating procedures to get rid of a body, and you’ll have members of the family or members of the community that are quite certain this person didn’t die from Ebola.”