Are African burials aiding the spread of Ebola?


“Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person have also been responsible for spreading infection in some outbreaks,” said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa. 

One of the biggest Ebola outbreaks reportedly happened after the funeral of a healer in Guinea, West Africa, after mourners came into close contact with the body.

“Ebola exploded after that funeral and has now killed at least 1,552 people in West Africa. It’s probably more than that, with 40 per cent of the cases in the last three weeks, according to the World Health Organisation,” reported CBS News in August.


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The disease is easily passed through cultural burial practices which include washing, hugging or kissing the corpse as well as braiding and shaving the hair of the diseased.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that teams responsible for collecting dead bodies infected by Ebola in Liberia were being bribed to issue death certificates stating other causes of the death as family members want to give their loved ones a proper burial.

“It is a troubling development for an outbreak in which dead bodies are a major source of contagion and one that suggests local corruption could help undermine the international effort to contain the virus,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

As Ebola continues to spread across the continent with several cases reported around the world, it is important to be knowledgeable of the disease that has claimed over 4,000 lives.

(READ MORE: Ebola fears spread as Spanish nurse worsens, British man tested)

Ebola is not an air-borne disease but is contracted through broken skin, blood vomit, faeces, and bodily fluid. It can take up to 2-21 days for humans to show symptoms which include: fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache sore throat. More severe symptoms include diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding – both internal and external – which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools, as reported by the World Health Organisation.

There is still no cure for Ebola.