MELIANDOU, Guinea - Deep within the forest region of Guinea, a tall, charred tree trunk stands at the edge ofthis village. A year ago, after a toddler became ill and death began to spread from home to home, villagers learned that the bats in that very tree were likely the reason they had become sick.
So eventually they took dry leaves and grass, set them afire and watched as the flames engulfed the trunk. The bats dropped to the ground, dead. But it was too late to prevent what would become the worst Ebola crisis on record.
A year after the Ebola epidemic started here, Guinea hopes it is finally close to extinguishing the outbreak. Government officials say their goal is to wipe out the disease within 60 days, through the diligent tracing of anyone who has come into contact with an Ebola patient. But health experts warn that Guinea may face a far harder time eliminating the disease than did its neighbors because of its geographic size, its large population - bigger than that of Liberia and Sierra Leone combined - and a public that has resisted the message that Ebola is real.