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WSUV anthropologists Human behaviors influence Ebola crisis

first_img The virulence of the virus itself is just one reason why the ongoing rampage of Ebola across West Africa and beyond is now considered the worst outbreak ever of that deadly disease.The other factors have everything to do with human behaviors and cultural practices — the things that anthropologists study.Those anthropologists include Barry and Bonnie Hewlett, a husband-and-wife team at Washington State University Vancouver. They have worked with the World Health Organization in containing previous Ebola epidemics in AfricaIn a Tuesday talk on campus, they said this outbreak of Ebola is also fueled by West African people’s long-standing mistrust of their own governments, as well as actions of foreign powers and international aid organizations. Take the terror of the incurable and mostly misunderstood disease. Now add the local landscape of poverty, political corruption, war, widespread death and strangers from overseas appearing in whole-body hazmat suits. Is it any wonder the locals are gripped by their natural human instinct to fight or flee?That’s exactly what happened in the American colonies and the young nation in the 1700s and 1800s during historic outbreaks of diseases including cholera, yellow fever and typhus, Barry Hewlett said: Authorities were slow to catch on and catch up with the outbreak, while citizens tended to deny it was real, to head for the hills and to blame “outsiders.” During the Spanish flu epidemic of the early 1900s, he said, even some of the doctors fled. Click to enlargelast_img read more

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