April 12, 2005

RUDE WAY TO ENTER THE 20TH CENTURY:

Battling a Virus -- and Anger -- in Angola (Charles Piller, April 13, 2005, LA Times)

International health officials fighting a deadly outbreak of Marburg fever in Angola said Tuesday that they had called in church leaders, social anthropologists and even a popular music group to help stop attacks on health workers clad in intimidating moon suits.

As the virus has spread, killing 194 people so far, some grieving residents have turned their anger toward relief workers, who have halted traditional burial rituals and removed bodies from villages to contain the virus.

Family members of Marburg victims have thrown rocks at health workers, and rumors have been circulating that the foreigners are spreading the disease.

"Imagine that a mother has lost her children, and then in come guys in white full-body suits and masks, and they don't allow the families to do their ritual washing of the bodies," said David Daigle, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in the province of Uige, northeast of the capital, Luanda.

Monica Castellarnau, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Uige, told Reuters that fear of health workers had led some to hide Marburg victims in their homes so as not to elicit a visit from authorities.

"That means the virus keeps on spreading in the community," she said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 12, 2005 11:33 PM
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