Producer's Notebook: Coming Home From Monrovia To Confusion And Fear : Goats and Soda As Liberians fight Ebola, Americans struggle with fear of the disease.
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Producer's Notebook: Coming Home From Monrovia To Confusion And Fear

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Producer's Notebook: Coming Home From Monrovia To Confusion And Fear

Producer's Notebook: Coming Home From Monrovia To Confusion And Fear

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

And our producer, Rebecca Hersher, was traveling with Jason Beaubien in Liberia two weeks ago. She's back now and with me in the studio. Becky, we just heard from Jason about the efforts to protect health workers adequately. But you also met with some health workers who don't need the heavy protective equipment to stay safe. Tell us about them.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Well, these are Ebola survivors, Arun. We met a lot of them. Double the number of people who have died of Ebola have gotten it, so there are a lot around. And they're a hot commodity.

First of all, because they're immune to the disease now - and so they can work in clinics without all that heavy protective equipment. Also because the government holds them up as an example of surviving. It's hopeful. One of the major barriers in Liberia in West Africa to treating the disease is that people are afraid to go to hospitals. It's seen as a place where people die. And so holding up a survivor and saying this person survived Ebola - that's a really powerful thing.

RATH: Is there any stigma within - any problems with the fact that they did have the disease - people might be afraid that they're still carriers?

HERSHER: Yeah. That's a really big problem. There's a lot of stigma. I met one woman whose parents - they had died of Ebola. And she was a survivor. And she had actually come back to the clinic where she had been treated, where her parents had died to care for kids. And let's hear from her. Her name is Salome Karwah. She's 26 years old.

SALOMA KARWAH: I help patients who are helpless. I bathe them. I feed the ones that are not able to eat and take care of their kids that their parents are positive.

HERSHER: She's talking children, babies, even who come in with parents who are sick and who are confirmed to have Ebola. Now, these kids are at high risk for getting the disease - some of them are not showing symptoms yet. And so the work she's doing is really important. It's also really stigmatized.

RATH: Becky, when you were in Liberia, the CDC announced new screening protocols for travelers coming to the U.S. from West Africa. What was your experience coming back to the U.S.? And what precautions have you been taking since you've been back?

HERSHER: People are being given this piece of paper that says hand this to your doctor if you get sick in the next 21 days. And this is a piece of paper that has all of the symptoms of Ebola on it. And it's meant to help doctors, who are dealing with patients who are coming back from West Africa from one of the countries that's been affected by Ebola. It has a hotline for the CDC. It has a list of things to watch for. And the first thing is says is isolate this patient. That combined with taking your temperature daily - and I've been doing that twice a day - is really the best defense because this disease is not dangerous until you show symptoms. And so the most important thing is to screen for symptoms and watch yourself for symptoms - and that's what I'm doing.

RATH: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED's own Rebecca Hersher. Becky, great work. It's really nice to have you back, though.

HERSHER: Thanks.

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