Sierra Leone Outbreak Tied to One Funeral
In Sierra Leone, a group of young men take on the dirtiest work of the Ebola outbreak: finding and burying the dead. By Ben C. Solomon.
Sierra Leone’s explosion of Ebola cases in early summer appears to stem from one traditional healer’s funeral at which 14 women were infected, according to scientists studying the blood of victims.
The funeral, which took place in mid-May, constitutes a “super-spreader” event comparable to one in 2003 in a Hong Kong hotel in which one doctor from China dying of SARS infected nine other guests who spread the virus throughout the city and to Vietnam and Canada.
The funeral was in Koindu, a diamond-mining town across the border from Guéckédou in Guinea, where the outbreak is thought to have begun in December, and the healer was known for treating victims of a mysterious illness that turned out to be Ebola.