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Fighting Marburg
Alex Steffen, 18 Apr 05

As the world grows more interconnected, epidemic disease outbreaks pose greater threats. Setting up public health regimes quickly wherever a new outbreak occurs is a vital worldchanging skill. This piece about the Marburg outbreak in Angola -- "Stalking a deadly virus, battling a town's fears" -- shows better than anything else I've read what it's like on the front lines:

UĂ?GE, Angola - For nearly four weeks, teams of health experts have been trying to set up a rescue operation in this town of windowless, crumbling buildings with no running water, intermittent electricity, poor sanitation and a perennially jammed telephone network. They are trying to contain the worst outbreak of one of the world's most frightening viruses, known as Marburg.

...For the people of UĂ­ge, rampant death is now joined by the near equivalent of a space invasion: health workers encased in masks, goggles, zip-up jump suits, rubberized aprons and rubber boots as they collect corpses in the stifling heat. The garb is all white, a symbol of witchcraft here.

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