Published On: Mon, Sep 29th, 2014

Ebola in the Caribbean

Jacob Gelt Dekker“Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and abortion,” blasted hateful broadcaster Rick Wiles euphorically on his evangelical “Truenews” program. His words, and other similar delusional messages, have reverberated for some time with several Caribbean island politicians, also on Curacao. The hatred of these so-called “evangelical” media is beyond any discussion in a civilized society, and I will not waste precious time on such hatemongers, but the misunderstandings about Ebola are mounting and deserve discussion.

Ebola is a virus disease passed on by bodily fluids only and originating from eating “bush meat”. The disease is NOT airborne! Monkeys, fruit bats, often consumed by people living in West Africa, are thought to be the host of the virus. The Ebola virus will block natural coagulation of blood inside the body and, eventually, the patient will bleed to death from internal hemorrhaging. Applying large amounts of vitamin K, in a very easy stage, has proven to be very effective and cheap in Uganda but is often banned by religious organizations, which prohibit vaccines, blood transfusions and injections. The incubation time of Ebola is maximum three weeks, equal to the course of the illness.

Over the last twenty years, Africa experienced about 40 Ebola outbreaks, which were easily contained by total isolation for a total of six weeks after the first outbreak, often imposed by the military. The recent outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have not been contained and cost thousands of lives. Superstition, witchcrafts and contaminating funerary rites, in combination with a ban on invasive medicine of so-called evangelical denominations in these countries, enabled the spread of the disease like wild fire.

Ebola passes on through bodily fluids, through blood, sweat, urine, feces and the consumption of body parts. Family members of a deceased Ebola-patient will be infected from kissing the corpse farewell, drinking as little as a few drops from the wash water of the corpse, as is the local ritual, or eating a tiny little bit of skin of the dead person, like one does in Uganda. In the slums people also drink untreated water from floods and streams in which Ebola-infected bodies are dumped. Superstitious locals often boycott sanitized city drinking water, as instructed by powerful local medical men, wizards and sorcerers. It is this kind of superstitions and witchcraft that cause family members to hide Ebola corpses and spread infection; reunification of the dead with souls of ancestors is so important that it seems to supersede all formal official health instructions. The conclusion is inevitable, spread of Ebola is completely manmade and based on superstition and bizarre religious practices.

Will Ebola reach the Caribbean as is feared and speculated? We do not know, but it is not unlikely. For many years a growing heroine/cocaine smuggling route by mules from West Africa visits the Caribbean islands. Fake marriages with Dutch-Curacao girls based in Holland provide the smugglers with Dutch passports, so nothing will obstruct their travel; traffickers manage to arrive totally undetected. Yes, these smugglers are from social environments in which superstition and illegality prevails, and yes, they could easily be Ebola-virus carriers. On the Caribbean islands live many groups of very religious, very superstitious and often very delusional people with very similar funerary rites as in Africa.

The government and airline officials are to do their utmost best, and everything possible in their might, to prohibit, block and prevent this kind of exposure.

You are warned officials, you are responsible and now the ball is in your court!

By Jacob Gelt Dekker - Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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