Everyone knew the three-year-old boy was at high risk. His mother had died from Ebola and the young children of victims are very likely to catch the virus.

So the local Sierra Leonean officials, backed up by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, checked the family daily.

“We were trying to get these family members to tell us things like whether they had a headache or muscle ache,” said Beth Ervin, one of the CDC epidemiologists working in the village. She’s one of an estimated 150 Americans working for the U.S. government or nonprofit groups to help the country fight an epidemic that’s infected more than 24,000 people and killed more than 10,000 of them.

Sixteen of the Americans working in Sierra Leone are back in the U.S. this week. One, an unidentified clinician, is in critical condition at the National Institutes of Health, fighting Ebola.

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