Originally published November 12 2014
Ebola has now spread to every district in Sierra Leone
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) No district has gone untouched in Sierra Leone, where Ebola has now been detected in every single area of the country. The last district where Ebola had yet to emerge, Koinadugu in the north, now has two known cases of the illness, despite aggressive efforts to keep it from entering the territory.
In a new report issued by the Emergency Operations Center, the two cases are the only ones that have been detected thus far in the mountainous region of Koinadugu, located several hundred miles to the northeast of Freetown, the nation's capital. How Ebola made it up to this area is still the subject of investigation.
"It was the only place we [were] counting on where you can go and breathe a sigh of relief and to know that now in the whole country no district is safe, is heartrending," said John Caulker, executive director of the nonprofit group Fambul Tok, which had been actively working to keep Ebola out of the district.
"Now we will increase our activities in the district and take the necessary measures to make sure the area is safe and it does not spread."
Nearly 2,000 more people will catch Ebola in Sierra Leone by next month, based on current spread rate The rest of Sierra Leone has been battling Ebola for months, with an average increase of about 425 new cases each week. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there have been more than 3,000 documented cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone thus far, which have resulted in 1,200 deaths.
News of the two cases in Koinadugu came from the district's health team, which had caught wind of people dying in the small village of Fakonya, located about 60 miles over rough terrain from the district center of Kabala. Fifteen people in the area had reportedly died, and two of six samples tested came back positive for Ebola.
Since that time, the town has gone under isolation, and several nearby communities are now being monitored for possible new cases. Those who have died will be cremated, says Momoh Konte, a local businessman educated in the U.S., and their homes will be burned down in order to protect others in the community.
Strict isolation measures weren't enough to prevent Ebola infections Prior to the two Ebola cases being identified, strict measures had already been in place to prevent Ebola from reaching the Koinadugu area. Movement in and out of the district required the use of special protective equipment, for instance, and chlorine buckets were used to sanitize and prevent transmission of the disease.
Konte told The Washington Post (WP) that the spread of Ebola to Koinadugu is something of a fluke, as the two confirmed Ebola cases had been smuggled in from a nearby district. These two cases are not indicative of rampant Ebola spread throughout the area, according to him, but rather of an atypical situation that officials say can be avoided in the future.
"We are working on correcting it," wrote Konte in a letter to WP.
Meanwhile, Konte says district officials will increase their screening regimens to ensure that no further Ebola cases slip across the district border. The goal, naturally, is to keep Ebola from infecting any more people, and to contain it strictly to the areas where it is already spreading.
"We have tightened surveillance around the area and are investigating... how the two confirmed cases might have contracted the disease," stated disease surveillance officer Abdul K. Sesay, as quoted by Reuters.
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