Patient Zero, the first human infected by Ebola in the current outbreak, was identified as being a toddler, Emile Ouamouno. New England Journal of Medicine identified Emile as being the first person that contracted the disease around 2 years ago but it is not known how this was possible.
The boy lived in southern Guinea, in a rainforest village, at the point of the infection. World Health Organization highlights that:
“In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines.”
This may be how the infection first reached the toddler.
It was reported that Emile had a fever in December, together with vomiting and black stools. After four days, he died. After around one month, his sister, mother and grandmother also died.
The mother was suffering from bleeding symptoms first. The only one that survived was Emile’s father, who is now left with some memories. In a statement made by UNICEF, it was said that Etienne Ouamouno said:
“Before my children Emile and Philomene died, they loved to play with a ball. My wife liked to carry the baby on her back.”
The Ouamouno family was living in Meliandou, a city where chickens and goats roam the streets freely, located near the Guinea borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Eventually, the Ebola virus spread and affected all areas surrounding the village.
The illness initially spread to people that attended the funeral of the grandmother. A woman then passed the virus to relatives in another village and to a health care worker. The health care worker also infected others, including the doctor that treated her.
As time passed, the death toll skyrocketed and reached around 5,000 people all around the world, including in USA. The countries that were the hardest hit are Sierra Leone, Libera and Guinea.