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Sierra Leone
Friday, May 20, 2022

Traditional healer may have brought Ebola to Salone

By Alusine Sesay & Kerifallah Janneh

An unnamed traditional healer in eastern Sierra Leone may have brought the deadly Ebola virus into the country, opined health officials at a press conference yesterday.

Although the deceased was not tested for the virus after she died upon returning from Ebola ravaged Guinea few weeks ago, she is reported to have shown signs of the disease before she died in a remote village not far from Guekedou in Guinea, which is the epicentre of the virus that has killed hundreds in Guinea and at least 12 in Liberia.

Both countries share a common border with Sierra Leone and have citizens who share common tribe and culture, with citizens interacting on daily basis to trade and for socio-cultural purposes.

According to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo, the female traditional healer attended a funeral in neighbouring Guinea and upon her return to Sierra Leone she immediately fell ill and died.

The dead woman’s child and husband subsequently died, Dr. Kargbo revealed, although conceding that the three deceased persons were never tested to confirm whether they had been infected by the Ebola virus.

However, with at least one more person already confirmed dead in Kailahun district with laboratory evidence pointing at Ebola, those who participated in the burial ceremony of the traditional healer, predominantly women, have been placed under observation, he said, adding that six suspected cases have so far been registered in Sokoma village in the Kissy Teng chiefdom, Kailahun district.

He said the six were being treated at the Koindu health centre while the confirmed case, though still alive, is being kept in isolation.

The chief medical officer noted that persons suspected to have contacted the diseased have shown symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, and advised the public, especially those in affected areas, to immediately bury corpses and to avoid washing them.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Miatta Kargbo, urged the public to take serious all precautions and prevention tips provided by the ministry.

She said the ministry has moved from preparedness to response stage and that laboratory and surveillance activities were now in full swing, with protective gears for medical practitioners and patients sent to both Kenema and Kailahun districts.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads within the human population.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has called on the public to avoid bodily contact with infected persons and to refrain from eating bush meat, a delicacy in especially rural communities.

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