Frankie Taggart’s AFP article conveys terribly sad news. From such small seeds do such terrible catastrophes grow.
It has laid waste to the tribal chiefdoms of Sierra Leone, leaving hundreds dead, but the Ebola crisis began with just one healer’s claims to special powers.
The outbreak need never have spread from Guinea, health officials revealed to AFP, except for a herbalist in the remote eastern border village of Sokoma.
“She was claiming to have powers to heal Ebola. Cases from Guinea were crossing into Sierra Leone for treatment,” Mohamed Vandi, the top medical official in the hard-hit district of Kenema, told AFP.
“She got infected and died. During her funeral, women around the other towns got infected.”
[. . .]
The herbalist’s mourners fanned out across the rolling hills of the Kissi tribal chiefdoms, starting a chain reaction of infections, deaths, funerals and more infections.
A worrying outbreak turned into a major epidemic when the virus finally hit Kenema city on June 17.