While the spread of the Ebola virus has dropped off the front pages of American media the disease still rages in Sierra Leone. The following story shows how difficult Ebola is to control in remote rural areas.
The video below honors Ebola fighters that were named Time magazine’s Person of Year.
Horror in Sierra Leone: A Single Spark Gives Ebola New Life
BY MAGGIE FOX, NBC News
An especially deadly outbreak of Ebola burned unseen in a remote part of Sierra Leone for several weeks, giving public health experts a reality check. It’s also a perfect embodiment of the warning that they’ve been giving for months: that a single spark can set off a conflagration of disease and death.
It happened in Kono, a remote district bordering Guinea. World Health Organization workers heard rumors of deaths and traveled there to find scenes out of a horror movie. At least 87 people had died and been hastily buried, often without the precautions needed to stop the corpses from infecting the living.
“When we got there the staff at the hospital were exhausted,” said Winnie Romeril, a spokeswoman from WHO. “They had been working nonstop, trying to manage the large numbers of patients who came in.”
Romeril, who was with one of the WHO teams in Kono, said the sick and dying were flooding the small facility.
“Everybody was at wit’s endThere weren’t enough vehicles to safely transport the sick, and local residents were so far from any cities or towns that they had not gotten word about Ebola. They didn’t know to seek treatment right away, they didn’t know they should stay away from other people, and they didn’t even know that a fever might mean something far worse than malaria.
“In this case, because people were so remote, by the time they got to the hospital it was five days out. They were dehydrated. It was too late,” Romeril said. Death rates, she said, were 85 percent.
WHO, the Sierra Leonean government and non-profit groups had been focused on the other hot spots and especially the cities. “It’s easy to get distracted when it gets into an urban area,” Romeril said. They were just feeling defeated,” she told NBC News.
“It would have been better if we had seen it earlier.”
Sierra Leone has overtaken Liberia as the country where the Ebola epidemic is the worst, with hundreds of new cases reported every week.
It’s still bad — WHO reports more than 18,000 cases and more than 6,500 deaths in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Experts now say it’ll be the middle of next year in the best-case scenario for getting the epidemic under control.
Read More: Ebola in Sierra Loene