The Race to Diagnose


The dying at the tin-roofed clinic in the rural Kono district of Sierra Leone comes at a ruthless pace. In the first two weeks of October, 20 out of the 22 patients who sought treatment for Ebola at the center died of the disease. That fatality rate, high even by the lethal standards of Ebola—the virus in the West African outbreak is killing 70% of people it infects, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)—could easily be brought down, says Dan Kelly, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of California, San Francisco who is currently in Kono with the Wellbody Alliance, a medical nonprofit he set up eight years ago. “The ability to test for Ebola, to test quickly, has become ever more important,” says Kelly, who believes the high death toll at the Kono clinic was due in part to the fact that there is no place to test…

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