Seattle nurse speaks on battling Ebola outbreaks in Africa: ‘It’s the best job in the world’

By Ryan Blethen

Karin Huster encounters death up close, and repeatedly.

She has seen babies perish in their mothers’ arms. She has watched people grieve as their loved ones were buried in white body bags drenched in bleach. She has survived a clinic where she worked being attacked, burned and shot at.

“It’s the best job in the world,” she says. “And I don’t mean this lightly.”

As a nurse and field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, and previously with other organizations, Huster spends six to 12 weeks at a time away from her Seattle home, helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Most recently, she has been in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where Ebola has killed 2,006 people and sickened 2,899 since August 2018.

The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 in the DRC, then known as Zaire. Death from the virus, which is passed through bodily fluids, is excruciating. Victims often die from dehydration because of severe diarrhea and vomiting. Entire families can be ravaged by the disease after caring for each other at home.

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