The death of a man in a region of Sierra Leone that had not seen an Ebola case in months has resulted in over 500 people being quarantined. The victim is believed to have caught Ebola in Sierra Leone’s capital while selling eggs, before traveling to his home village in the northern Tonkolili District for the end of Ramadan.
The man died after being brought to at least two hospitals and was buried without the proper Ebola procedures being followed. Currently, the 30 nurses who treated the man at the various hospitals, as well as his entire home village, are now under quarantine. The last Ebola case in the Tonkolili area was 150 days ago.
Part of the reason the Ebola diagnoses was not made until after the man had died is because the primary symptom, fever, is present in many more common diseases, like typhoid and malaria. Since officials didn’t realize they were treating an Ebola patient, none of the hospitals involved called the emergency Ebola number the government had set up.
Despite this apparent setback, both Sierra Leone officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) remain optimistic about the ability to eradicate the disease from the country. WHO has already noted that the weekly number of Ebola cases in both Sierra Leone and Guinea are at the lowest levels of the year.
Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh, the head of the Ebola response center, voices his optimism. “Sierra Leone is on the last lap to get to zero number of cases, and we are bringing in the Sierra Leone police and military to enforce the Ebola by-laws and get people to comply with the restrictions.”
Vigilance is going to be the main factor in ensuring the disease is eliminated within the country. The head of the WHO offices in Sierra Leone, Dr. Anders Nordstrom, notes that the biggest challenge at this point is to ensure the momentum that has developed over the past year is not lost.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Sierra Leone Faces Ebola Setback as 500 Quarantined after Man’s Death,” BelfastTelegraph.co.uk, July 30, 2015; http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/sierra-leone-faces-ebola-setback-as-500-quarantined-after-mans-death-31416438.html.
de Vries, N., “UN Ebola Emergency Response Mission Ends in Sierra Leone,” Voice Of America web site, July 30, 2015; http://www.voanews.com/content/un-emergency-response-mission-ends-in-sierra-leone/2887157.html.