Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea
The lethal tropical virus, Ebola, has already taken nearly 100 lives in Guinea, and spread to two other countries, since the first reported cases in January.
Right now, a virus that has no cure is claiming lives in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Of the 134 confirmed cases, 84 have been fatal. Currently, BMS World Mission has two mission worker families in Guinea, Eric and Sarah Bafende in Macenta and Simon and Solange Wood working between Kissidougou and Conakry. Thankfully, all members of both families are in good health. They, along with doctors from World Health Organisation and Medecins Sans Frontieres, are hard at work shortening the virus’ reach and easing the fear that is sweeping the region.
"There is fear around, fear of the virus,” says Solange Wood, “fear of death.” Workers are using gloves in supermarkets, parents are keeping their children from school, and commuters are choosing to walk instead of using buses or taxis.
The virus originated in Guinea’s forest region where ‘bush meat’ such as bats, monkeys and porcupines are local delicacies. Once a person is infected, the virus can be passed through contact with bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces. “Everyone must wash their hands with soap and water then again with javel water,” says Eric. Javel water (bleach powder mixed with water) acts as an additional antiseptic. Good hygiene and reduced contact between people is paramount during the outbreak and helps to reduce the chances of infection. However, there are some challenges.
“One of my English students was quite worried about using the shared shower in his compound,” says Solange. “I gave him some advice and ideas on how to keep himself safe, and then I wondered, would everyone in Conakry be able to afford bleach and soap to clean their showers?” There is also the issue of water. “People are frustrated as they are being advised to keep good hygiene, wash their hands often, wash their community showers and toilets well,” says Solange, “but two weeks ago, several suburbs were protesting over the lack of water in Conakry.”
Sadly, despite the strides modern medicine has made, there is little that can be done once the virus is in the system. Victims will suffer from fevers, internal and external bleeding, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, organ failure and, in a large number of cases, death.
“Our prayer is that God's protection will be over our family, over each one of us and over each person we come in contact with,” says Solange. “That we will be able to share our hope for eternal life in Jesus with others as people reflect on death and the fragility of this life.”
Please pray for the continued health and safety of Eric and Sarah Bafende, Simon and Solange Wood and the children of both families, as they work to control the spread of this deadly virus.
Pray for the people of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sénégal who are at risk of contracting this Ebola. Pray that God will comfort the families of those who have lost or are losing loved ones to this deadly virus.