How Ebola Found Fertile Ground in Freetown
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone—A sea of rusted, tin-roofed shanties cascades chaotically to the Atlantic. Between the makeshift shelters of Kroo Bay, a slum in the capital of Sierra Leone, people wash, cook, urinate, and repair roofs, radios, and engines.
White banners reading “Ebola: No Touch Am” (“Don’t touch” in Krio, a creole language widely spoken in Sierra Leone) droop from crumbling walls—a reminder of the invisible killer ravaging the country, which spreads through bodily contact. It’s an impossible command to follow in a place where families of six commonly share single rooms and two people cannot pass through an alley without brushing shoulders.
In December, more than seven months after the Ebola virus hit Sierra Leone, Kroo Bay was infested. The greater Freetown area had become the epicenter of the deadly disease.