Two weeks ago, I added a new word to my local vocabulary: “ebola.”
Three Fridays ago at Republic, an Englishman mentioned his concern over the ebola virus outbreak in Guinea. He was saying how easily the disease could spread at a bar like Republic. Due to the ECOWAS treaty, West Africans can travel freely among participating countries. I had read about it in the local press but had not taken the issue to heart.
Ebola is serious because it has a 90 percent fatality rate and there is no cure. Furthermore, it’s an unpleasant way to die. Basically you die of uncontrolled internal bleeding.
Two days later, while visiting the beach I met a couple of Costa Ricans alarmed over the same outbreak. It seems the highly infectious virus originated in Guinea-Conakry and has spread to Liberia. Ebola has killed 122 people in Guinea alone and 13 people in Liberia. Guineans apparently eat bats as part of their local diet and experts believe the disease jumped from bats to humans. These Costa Ricans were debating whether they should travel to Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire, for a wedding even though no cases have been reported in Cote D’Ivoire.
The last time “ebola” came up in my life was when I was listening to the audiobook of Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone, a true account of how ebola surfaced in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC.
After returning from the beach, I checked the local news on my laptop. The Daily Graphic reported that a 12-year old girl from Mali had died mysteriously in a hospital in Kumasi. Her blood was being tested for ebola.
Not waiting for the result, the next morning I hurried to the Accra Mall to stock up on supplies. I bought what I thought would be the first load of dry goods and canned food for 1-2 months of hiding in my apartment.
By the time I finished my shopping, I received a news text stating that the girl did not die of ebola. Whew! Well, at least I won’t have to go to the supermarket for the next month, I thought. Fortunately, the outbreak seems to have been contained in Guinea-Conakry and Liberia.
Some say the world is getting smaller as if we are all living the same experiences but in different corners of the globe. I don’t think so. The fact that “ebola” has entered into my daily vocabulary suggests some of us are worlds away.
For more information on the ebola outbreak: