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(Reuters) - Time magazine named those fighting Ebola its 2014 "Person of the Year," applauding the work of medical relief teams, doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams working in western Africa, where an outbreak of the virus has killed thousands.
"For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are Time's 2014 Person of the Year," the magazine said in a statement.
The magazine pictured five people on its covers, including: Dr. Jerry Brown, a Liberian surgeon; Salome Karwah, an Ebola survivor whose parents died from the disease; and Dr. Kent Brantly, an American missionary who became infected while in Liberia.
Ebola has killed 6,331 people out of 17,800 cases in the latest outbreak, almost all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the United Nations' World Health Organization.
The current death rate is estimated to be about 70 percent of all cases.
Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Susan Heavey