Ebola survivor: I had fever, diarrhoea, dysentery... then hiccups

This article is more than 12 months old

Canada quarantined a patient with Ebola-like symptoms yesterday as the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency over the outbreak.

The virus has killed almost 1,000 people so far, with 1,779 suspected and confirmed cases in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

There is no cure for the virus.

About 90 per cent of sufferers die.

Ebola survivor Saa Sabas, a former medical worker from Guinea, told Nigerian Tribune how people shunned him after recovery.

He contracted the virus while caring for another Ebola patient.

When he went to the hospital after suffering a persistent fever of nearly 40 deg Celsius, staff said he tested positive for Ebola.

Here are the symptoms he described:

"This fever lasted two days; then the third day I got a diarrhea.

That lasted four days, until, on the seventh day, I got dysentery.

Then finally I had hiccups for four days. I was very worried at that point. I remember also that my throat was so sore that I couldn’t eat.

I’ve had fever before, and I’ve had diarrhea before. All of that, of course, made me weak.

But the hiccuping stage really scared me. I’ve heard that lots of people die at this stage of the illness.

Stigma persists

Ebola can easily be mistaken for flu at first.

But it progresses quickly, often causing internal and external bleeding, organ damage, and death.

Sabas was treated with oral medication and infusions. Over time, he started to feel better.

In the end, after about 13 days of sickness, Sabas survived a disease that many people see as a death sentence.

Once he left the hospital, doctors gave him a certificate noting that he was no longer sick so that other people would not fear him.

Ebola is highly stigmatised in Africa because people fear contamination.

Sources: AFP, Nigerian Tribune, WHO