Advertisement

All the Mothers Are Dead: Ebola’s Chilling Effects on the Young Women of One Liberian Town Named Joe Blow

  • David A. Schwartz
Chapter
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)

Abstract

The Ebola virus epidemic was unexpected in Liberia, which was unprepared to cope with the rapid spread and extensive devastation caused by the disease. This was nowhere truer than in the tiny Liberian village of Joe Blow Town. Following the illness and death of a woman, all of the mothers in the village died as a result of acquiring Ebola virus disease while caring for her and preparing her funeral, leaving their children orphaned. This chapter summarizes the course of the Ebola virus epidemic in Liberia, its effect on the women and children in one village, and the mortuary and burial practices that were responsible for the death of all the mothers in Joe Blow Town.

Keywords

Mother death Orphan Liberia Joe Blow Town Outbreak Ebola transmission Funeral Traditional funerary practice Mortuary practice Body washing Gender-based risk Epidemiology Burial practice Caring for ill 

References

  1. Abramowitz, S., & Omidian, P. (2014). Attitudes towards Ebola related funerary practices and memorialization in urban Liberia. Ebola Response Anthropology Platform. Retrieved May 5, 2018, from http://www.ebola-anthropology.net/key_messages/attitudes-towards-ebola-related-funerary-practices-and-memorialization-in-urban-liberia/.
  2. Aizenman, N. (2014). Why patients aren’t coming to Liberia’s Redemption Hospital. NPR. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/08/27/343494521/why-patients-arent-coming-to-liberias-redemption-hospital.
  3. Baker, A. (2014). Liberia burns its bodies as Ebola fears run rampant. Time Magazine. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from http://time.com/3478238/ebola-liberia-burials-cremation-burned/.
  4. BBC. (2014). Liberia orders Ebola victims’ bodies to be cremated. BBC News. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28640745.
  5. BBC. (2015). Liberia’s Ebola orphans. Interview with Chloe Brett. BBC. Retrieved April 3, 2018, from https://soundcloud.com/bbc-world-service/liberias-ebola-orphans.
  6. Brainard, J., Hooper, L., Pond, K., Edmunds, K., & Hunter, P. R. (2016). Risk factors for transmission of Ebola or Marburg virus disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology, 45(1), 102–116. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26589246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brekke, K. (2015). Ebola killed every mother in this Liberian village. Huffington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/ebola-killed-all-mothers-in-joeblow-liberia-2015-1.
  8. Capelouto, S., & Smith, M. (2014). Liberia’s top medical officer is in Ebola quarantine. CNN. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/27/world/africa/ebola-liberia/index.html.
  9. CDC. (2015). Ebola (Ebola virus disease). Transmission. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/index.html.
  10. Chhabra, E. (2015). Ebola’s body collectors. The Atlantic. Retrieved February 5, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/ebolas-body-collectors/407965/.
  11. Delay, J. (2015). In one Liberian village, the Ebola outbreak did not spare a single mother. National Post. Retrieved April 4, 2018, from http://nationalpost.com/news/in-one-liberian-village-the-ebola-outbreak-did-not-spare-a-single-mother.
  12. Fallah, S. (2015). Liberia’s last Ebola patient discharged from center. USA Today. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/03/05/last-ebola-patient-released-liberia/24421305/.
  13. Fox, M. (2015). Ebola returns to Liberia, again. NBC News. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/ebola-returns-liberia-again-n467146.
  14. Guilbert, K. (2016). Redemption in Liberia: A hospital’s painful recovery from Ebola. Reuters. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-liberia-ebola-health-idUSKCN0V40IA.
  15. Hewlett, B. S., & Amola, R. P. (2003). Cultural contexts of Ebola in northern Uganda. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 9(10), 1242–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Knapton, S. (2015). Ebola wipes out every mother in Liberian village. The Telegraph. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/ebola/11304584/Ebola-wipes-out-every-mother-in-Liberian-village.html.
  17. Levine, A. (2014). One woman walked in, and the Ebola nightmare began. CNN. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2014/09/24/health/ebola-epidemic-liberia/index.html.
  18. MacDougall, C., & Flynn, D. (2014). Bodies dumped in streets as West Africa struggles to curb Ebola. Reuters. Retrieved April 3, 2018, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-ebola-africa/bodies-dumped-in-streets-as-west-africa-struggles-to-curb-ebola-idUSKBN0G51VF20140805.
  19. McConnell, T. (2014). Some people would rather die of Ebola than stop hugging sick loved ones. Public Radio International. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-10/some-people-would-rather-die-ebola-stop-hugging-sick-loved-ones.
  20. Menéndez, C., Lucas, A., Munguambe, K., & Langer, A. (2015). Ebola crisis: The unequal impact on women and children’s health. Lancet Global Health, 3(3), e130. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(15)70009-4/fulltext.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nkangu, M. N., Olatunde, O. A., & Yaya, S. (2017). The perspective of gender on the Ebola virus using a risk management and population health framework: A scoping review. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 6(1), 135. Retrieved February 3, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5635524/.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pellecchia, U., Crerstani, R., Decroo, T., Van den Bergh, R., & Al-Koirdi, Y. (2015). Social consequences of Ebola containment measures in Liberia. PLOS One, 10(12), e0143036. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143036.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Reuters. (2016). Liberia records new Ebola death, months after end of its outbreak. Thomson Reuters Foundation News. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from http://news.trust.org/item/20160401113911-cthc6.
  24. Richards, P., Amara, J., Ferme, M., & Kamara, P. (2015). Social pathways for Ebola virus disease in rural Sierra Leone, and some implications for containment. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 9(4), e0003567. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003567.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Ryeng, H. S. (2015). Ebola in Liberia: From secret burials to safe burials. UNICEF. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://blogs.unicef.org/blog/ebola-in-liberia-from-secret-burials-to-safe-burials/.
  26. Scientific American. (2015). Ebola spread now limited to 2 counties in Liberia—Official. Retrieved February 5, 2018, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ebola-spread-now-limited-to-2-counties-in-liberia-official/.
  27. Shah, J. A. (2015). The dead bodies of the West African Ebola epidemic: Understanding the importance of traditional burial practices. Inquiries, 7(11), 1–4. Retrieved April 4, 2018, from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1300/3/the-dead-bodies-of-the-west-african-ebola-epidemic-understanding-the-importance-of-traditional-burial-practices.Google Scholar
  28. Sharma, A., Heijenberg, N., Clement, P., Bolongei, J., Reeder, B., Alpha, T., et al. (2014). Evidence for a decrease in transmission of Ebola virus—Lofa County, Liberia, June 8–November 1, 2014. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(46), 1067–1071. Retrieved February 5, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm63e1114a1.htm?s_cid=mm63e1114a1_w.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Silver, M. (2014). A fiasco at the burial ground, a prank at the shop: Covering Ebola. NPR. Retrieved April 2, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/08/14/340153946/a-fiasco-at-the-burial-ground-a-prank-at-the-shop-covering-ebola.
  30. Snyder, R. E., Marlow, M. A., & Riley, L. W. (2014). Ebola in urban slums: The elephant in the room. Lancet Global Health, 2(12), e685. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(14)70339-0. Retrieved April 2, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5004591/#R9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Soy, A. (2015). Redemption of an Ebola-hit hospital in Monrovia. BBC News. Retrieved January 27, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33465459.
  32. Statista. (2015). Ebola cases and deaths among health care workers due to the outbreaks in West African countries as of November 4, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/325347/west-africa-ebola-cases-and-deaths-among-health-care-workers/.
  33. Street Child. (2015). The Liberian village where ebola has taken all the mothers—S. Telegraph, BBC World Service, BBC News 24. Street Child. Retrieved April 3, 2018, from https://www.street-child.co.uk/ebola-crisis-update/2015/1/7/the-liberian-village-where-ebola-has-taken-all-the-mothers-s-telegraph-bbc-world-service-bbc-news-24.
  34. The Guardian. (2014). Ebola cremation ruling prompts secret burials in Liberia. The Guardian. Retrieved May 5, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/ebola-cremation-ruling-secret-burials-liberia.
  35. Tiffany, A., Dalziel, B. D., Kagume Njenge, H., Johnson, G., Nugba Ballah, R., James, D., et al. (2017). Estimating the number of secondary Ebola cases resulting from an unsafe burial and risk factors for transmission during the West Africa Ebola epidemic. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 11(6), e0005491. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0005491.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. VOA. (2014). Ebola: la suppression des rites funéraires exacerbe la douleur des survivants. Voice of America Africa. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.voaafrique.com/a/ebola-la-suppression-des-rites-funeraires-exacerbe-la-douleur-des-survivants/2477044.html.
  37. WHO. (2014a). Ebola in Liberia: Misery and despair tempered by some good reasons for hope. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/ebola-6-months/liberia/en/.
  38. WHO. (2014b). Why the Ebola outbreak has been underestimated. 22 August 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2018, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/ebola/22-august-2014/en/.
  39. WHO. (2014c). Ebola response roadmap. Situation report update. 14 November 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/143216/1/roadmapsitrep_14Nov2014_eng.pdf?ua=1.
  40. WHO. (2015). Liberia: a country—And its capital—Are overwhelmed with Ebola cases. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/one-year-report/liberia/en/.
  41. ZOA. (n.d.). Ebola. Noodhulp. Een jaar na de uitbrak van ebola [Ebola. Emergency aid. One year after the outbreak of Ebola]. Retrieved November 24, 2018, from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjEgrzTgZnZAhXFtVMKHaTJAW4QFggrMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zoa.nl%2Fcontent%2Fuploads%2FRapportage-1-jaar-noodhulp-Ebola-low-res.pdf&usg=AOvVaw08q7QLnv2IeXYO35uA1T2W.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Schwartz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyMedical College of Georgia, Augusta UniversityAugustaUSA

Personalised recommendations