Ebola: Inside an Outbreak/The Plague Fighters

60 minutes • Documentary • Produced in association with: CBC, NOVA, WGBH/Boston and Channel 4 • Production year: 1996

In May and June of 1995, the deadliest disease known to the human species emerged from a Zairian rainforest – Ebola.

For the first time ever, a documentary takes viewers inside a viral outbreak and the battle to contain it. Ebola: Inside an Outbreak/The Plague Fighters goes beyond the headlines and past the quarantine lines for an up close and unsettling look at the Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, Zaire.

As the crisis unfolds, we travel with the local Red Cross, whose workers risk their lives collecting “hot” corpses. We follow local doctors tending to the sick in isolation wards – where bleeding Ebola patients spend their last agonizing moments. Viewers are taken deep into the Zairian rainforest where medical students search for the first case, “Patient Zero.” And in the hope of discovering Ebola’s source, we follow scientists clad in biocontainment “space” suits through the steamy swelter of the forest, as they trap and dissect rats, insects and giant bats.

In the film’s dramatic climax, we watch a breakaway group of doctors, in a desperate bid to find a cure, plan secretly to infuse a nurse who may have Ebola, with the blood of a survivor.

Ebola: Inside an Outbreak/The Plague Fighters is an insightful, well-researched and dramatic account of a life and death skirmish with one of the most deadly viruses known to humankind.

Directed by: Ric Esther Bienstock
Producers: Simcha Jacobovici, Elliott Halpern and Ric Esther Bienstock
Associate Producer: Marike Emery

Award Highlights:

  • Alfred I. DuPont Award - Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism
  • Gemini Award, Best Science Documentary
  • Gemini Award, Best Original Music Score
  • Gold Plaque, Chicago International Television Competition
  • Hot Docs Award, Best Science Documentary
  • Hot Docs Award, Best Original Sound