clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ebola health team found dead

Eight people, including health workers and three journalists, have been found dead in Guinea, where they were distributing health information about Ebola.

"The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit," a Guinean government spokesperson told Reuters.

The team was allegedly attacked while working near the city of Nzérékoré. The group had been stoned on Tuesday and then went missing, according to the Guardian. They were believed to be held captive.

The Guardian reported that their messages about Ebola had been met by hostile residents:

"The meeting started off well; the traditional chiefs welcomed the delegation with 10 kola nuts as a traditional greeting," said a local resident who was present at the meeting earlier this week and gave only his first name, Yves. "It was afterwards that some youths came out and started stoning them. They dragged some of them away, and damaged their vehicles."

Some believed they were actually in Guinea to spread the disease.

This isn't the first time public health workers have been attacked during the epidemic. Aid workers, including members of Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross, have reported that fear of the virus or the belief foreigners are giving people the illness have spurred locals to attack health teams or run away at their sight.

Part of this reaction is the result of the fact that this is the first time the virus has surfaced in West Africa, where many people had no idea about Ebola before this year. Spreading public health messages has been extremely challenging in an environment with low health literacy and public trust in officials.

In Liberia, distrust in the government led some people to think Ebola is a government scam to attract international aid.

But the killing of Ebola workers in Guinea takes this hostility to a new and disturbing level.

This year, Ebola has killed more people than sum total of all the previous outbreaks since the virus was first identified in 1976.

Further reading: Here are the seven reasons why this outbreak got so bad and a list of aid groups working on the Ebola crisis and how to donate.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.