Changes in 'super-spreader funeral events' may help stop Ebola spread

A new research has revealed that hygienic funeral practices, case isolation, contact tracing with quarantines and better protection for health care workers offer best chance to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

ANI| Updated: Oct 31, 2014, 12:28 PM IST

Washington: A new research has revealed that hygienic funeral practices, case isolation, contact tracing with quarantines and better protection for health care workers offer best chance to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

Researchers from Yale University, Oregon State University and Liberia concluded that funerals, as they have been customarily practiced in this region, were what they called "super-spreader events" that have had a disproportionate impact on the early transmission of the virus.

Researcher Jan Medlock said that the cultural body preparation and funeral practices often included washing, touching and kissing of bodies that were still capable of spreading the Ebola virus and it is imperative that funeral transmission be stopped and also, that people take other aggressive steps to isolate cases and better protect health care workers.

Instead of traditional burial preparations, the researchers endorsed a very hygienic approach that includes disinfecting the cadaver before placing it in a plastic body bag and doing further disinfecting.

Human-to-human transmission of Ebola occurs mostly through direct or indirect contact with body fluids, the researchers noted in their report, and deceased victims still carry a high viral load in their blood and excretions.

Researchers concluded that the implementation of effective interventions needed to reverse the growth of the Ebola outbreak in impoverished West African countries will be logistically challenging even with substantial international aid, but impossible without it.

The study is published in the journal Science.