Ebola survivor returns to treat patients

Rebecca Johnson, a Sierra Leone nurse who was reported to be infected with the Ebola virus on Nov. 14, returned to work Monday after recovering from the disease.

She met with World Health Organization's (WHO) director general, Dr. Margaret Chan, who expressed to Johnson her gratitude for choosing to continue her work after surviving the virus.

"It felt good when she (Dr. Chan) hugged me," Johnson said. "I really appreciate all you people who have come to help us."

She intends to return to full capacity as a nurse, treating people with the virus. Because she has survived an Ebola infection, she has gained immunity from future infections from the same strain because her immune system has developed antibodies to combat the virus. She states that she will don the personal protective equipment as all others would, but she is no longer afraid of contracting the disease.

Prior to being infected, Johnson treated Ebola patients at the Police Training School Hastings I in the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. When she first started to develop symptoms she could not believe it.
"My mind would not think Ebola," Johnson said. "No, it was not possible. I was paralyzed with vomiting for days."

She does face stigmatization from her community. She carries her discharge form from the hospital to prove that she is once again healthy. She will not only care for patients as a nurse, but she is also encouraging to patients of the possibility of beating the disease.

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