I'll continue to cover the aftermath of MH17, but people are still falling ill. Via The Washington Post: ‘There is no such thing as Ebola’. Click through for photos and a video. Excerpt:
“I don’t believe in Ebola,” Craig Manning’s local driver told him as he chauffeured the viral emergency specialist through Freetown, Sierra Leone, where infection rates are rising. The man came from a rural part of the country where people were already dying from the virus. He was adamant, like many others in his community, that “there is no such thing as Ebola.”
He is wrong. The epidemic, the deadliest on record, continues to batter Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, with 85 new cases and 68 new deaths reported in only four days earlier this month, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Sierra Leone bore the brunt of new infections and deaths, with 49 new cases and 52 deaths reported. The total number of cases stands at 982, with 613 deaths as of July 17.
Yet, as the Ebola virus continues to spread in West Africa, so do the rumors. Some say you can contract Ebola from a motorcycle helmet. Others say you can cure the deadly virus by drinking Nescafé mixed with cocoa and sugar — or with two large onions.
It’s Manning’s job to take onions out of the equation.
A health communications strategist with the Viral Special Pathogens Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Manning was sent to Guinea at the first outbreak of the Ebola crisis in March. When one of his colleagues, Pierre Roland, an expert on Ebola, gave a presentation at the U.S. Embassy in Conkary about mitigating risks of transmission, Manning recorded him. He then had the edited 30 second snippets translated into 10 local languages and broadcast over local radio stations and TV.
When the virus spread to Sierra Leone, Manning followed it, teaming up with BBC Media Action to bring together radio station managers from across the country to help spread the word.
Manning said aggressive intervention is necessary to prevent more people from becoming infected, but ensuring local populations understand Ebola first is essential. For instance, in areas where the virus has spread, relatives wash bodies by hand before funerals, putting families at risk of new infections.
“People do not easily accept the idea that teams will take their deceased loved one, put them in a bag and bury them somewhere different,” said Manning. “The challenge is to strike a balance.”