When Mohamed Swarray contracted the deadly Ebola disease in June, he was confined to a tented isolation ward at Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone. But he didn't stay there long.

Suspicious of the doctors in their masks and body-length protective suits, he slipped out and fled to the capital, Freetown, 300 km (185 miles) away. He was nursed in a private home for a week before being traced by officials and hurriedly returned, weak and frightened, to Kenema.

As West Africa faces the deadliest Ebola outbreak ever — with 400 dead so far — this kind of fear and mistrust is driving dozens of victims to evade treatment, frustrating foreign and local doctors trying to contain the epidemic.