Guinea: "fever" takes hold of the people in Conakry

by Terre des hommes | Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland
Wednesday, 2 April 2014 12:45 GMT

@Tdh/Sandro Mahler

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Guinea: "fever" takes hold of the people in Conakry

Since the Ebola virus was identified in Guinea, making a national account of 122 suspected cases (including 11 children according to UNICEF) and 81 dead, the whole population’s on alert. Propagation of Ebola scares the people, and rightly so : there is no specific cure against the virus, and the case fatality rate is very high (63% according to a Ministry of Health report posted last Sunday).

Four cases of Ebola virus were confirmed in Conakry, Capital of Guinea. These people, victims of the virus and suffering from hemorrhagic fever, are currently in quarantine, in a secure unit of Hospital Donka. The four cases are in the same family, and were already being monitored after one of their relative’s death.«Good news is that we don’t think many people have been in contact with them since the end of the incubation period, so they aren’t likely to have contaminated others », points out Olivier Feneyrol, Head of Terre des hommes’ delegation in Guinea, invited to TV5 Monde’s news programme (

A situation conducive to rumors and propheties

Due to lack of responsiveness and proactivity of government actors, the population is poorly informed on symptoms of Ebola and on how it spreads. And as it is often the case when one doesn’t know, citizens are likely to believe anything they hear. Therefore, this West African country sees the birth of all kinds of charlatans, pretending they know how to cure Ebola or how to repel it. Other rumors are circulating that the humanitarian teams, which disinfect the houses of the diseased and the deceased, are actually spies, or that they are the ones spreading the virus. «That’s one more reason to communicate widely and simply, with clear instructions », recalls Olivier Feneyrol.

Remain vigilant and apply instructions

As there is no cure, prevention is the best way to contain the virus. Therefore, populations must stop consuming bush meat, potential vector of the virus ; healthcare workers must take precautions to handle patients suspected of being affected ; individuals which were in contact with contaminated people must stay at home, monitor their temperature and consult in case of strong fever, in order to be isolated quickly in specialized units if Ebola is the cause ; relatives of the deceased must not transport or touch the bodies during funerals ; areas frequented by the diseased and their homes must get disinfected with bleach.

Let’s recall that it’s the first time Ebola spreads in such a wide city – nearly two million people live in Conakry. Even though propagation of the virus seems slow at the moment, we must reamain extremely vigilant and implement all possible measures of hygiene and security in order to limit risks of contagion.

What is Ebola virus (

Terre des homme’s actions in Guinea (