A team of Red Cross workers looking to collect the bodies of potential Ebola victims was attacked Wednesday in Guinea. It’s the latest episode of violence involving Ebola aid workers, a phenomenon caused by generalized fear and a lack of understanding about how the virus spreads. From the AP:
Family members of the dead initially set upon the six volunteers and vandalized their cars, said Mariam Barry, a resident. Eventually a crowd went to the regional health office, where they threw rocks at the building.
Eight individuals from an Ebola education team were killed last week in the country, and Doctors Without Borders temporarily pulled out of a Guinean town earlier this year because its office was stoned. More from the AP:
The disease is so new to this part of the world and so terrifyingly lethal that many people fear all outsiders associated with Ebola, even if they are coming to help, said Meredith Stakem, a health and nutrition adviser for Catholic Relief Services. In addition, many people in these communities may not be familiar with even basic biological concepts of disease transmission, and Ebola is contradicting what they do know.
“There’s not a lot of diseases that can be transmitted by corpses,” she said. “It’s hard for people to comprehend that the dead body is actually a threat.”
Sierra Leone conducted a three-day “lockdown” last weekend in which residents were told to stay at home while medical personnel traveled door to door distributing information and checking for potential victims, finding at least 130 new cases.