Outbreaks never happen when everything else is quiet. Via Bloomberg: Malaria Cases Mix With Ebola Amid ‘Slow Motion Disaster’. Excerpt:
As the death toll rises in West Africa amid the worst Ebola outbreak on record, a separate threat is compounding the problem: the rainy season and the malaria cases that come with it.
In Sierra Leone, with the most Ebola cases in the epidemic, a fearful population is failing to seek medical attention for any diseases, health officials say. If they have malaria, the feeling is they don’t want to go near a hospital with Ebola cases. If it’s Ebola, they don’t believe the hospitals can help them anyway.
It’s a widening problem complicated by the fact that Ebola, malaria and cholera share common symptoms early on, including fever and vomiting, which can cause confusion among patients, said Cyprien Fabre, head of the West Africa office of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department.
“We now have increased mortality for these other diseases” as well, Fabre said by telephone from Freetown, the country’s capital, after visiting Ebola treatment centers in Kenema and Kailahun near the eastern border. “This is a slow-motion disaster.”
The issue threatens to further undermine health and welfare in Sierra Leone, which has the world’s highest rate of child and maternal mortality, Fabre said.
The outbreak has killed 932 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone since it was first reported in March, according to the World Health Organization. That includes 45 deaths from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4, the health group said.
“I’m afraid of going to the hospital because if they don’t tell you about having Ebola, it will be something else that will break your heart,” said Ibrahim Kalokoh, a 34-year-old disc jockey, in an interview in Freetown. “If I am experiencing malaria symptoms, I would rather rush to a pharmacy and buy drugs than go to the hospital.”
“Right now,” he added, “‘going to the hospital is the worst you can suggest to me, with all the Ebola noise around.’’
Beyond the fear are other challenges contributing to the problem, according to Fabre. Health workers afraid of getting infected are becoming increasingly reluctant to help out, and one treatment center has exceeded its capacity of 88 beds.