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Historical Parallels, Ebola Virus Disease and Cholera: Understanding Community Distrust and Social Violence with Epidemics

In the three West African countries most affected by the recent Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, resistance to public health measures contributed to the startling speed and persistence of this epidemic in the region. But how do we explain this resistance, and how have people in these communities understood their actions? By comparing these recent […]

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Engaging ‘Communities’: Anthropological Insights from the West African Ebola Epidemic

The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa highlights how engaging with the sociocultural dimensions of epidemics is critical to mounting an effective outbreak response. Community engagement was pivotal to ending the epidemic and will be to post-Ebola recovery, health system strengthening and future epidemic preparedness and response. Extensive literatures in the social sciences have emphasized […]

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Comparison of Social Resistance to Ebola Response in Sierra Leone and Guinea Suggests Explanations Lie in Political Configurations not Culture

Sierra Leone and Guinea share broadly similar cultural worlds, straddling the societies of the Upper Guinea Coast with Islamic West Africa. There was, however, a notable difference in their reactions to the Ebola epidemic. As the epidemic spread in Guinea, acts of violent or everyday resistance to outbreak. Reducing spread repeatedly followed, undermining public health […]

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The First Mile: Community Experience of Outbreak Control during an Ebola Outbreak in Luwero District, Uganda

A major challenge to outbreak control lies in early detection of viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) in local community contexts during the critical initial stages of an epidemic, when risk of spreading is its highest (“the first mile”). In this paper we document how a major Ebola outbreak control effort in central Uganda in 2012 was […]

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Rat-Atouille: A Mixed Method Study to Characterize Rodent Hunting and Consumption in the Context of Lassa Fever

Lassa Fever is a zoonotic hemorrhagic illness predominant in areas across Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and southern Mali. The reservoir of Lassa virus is the multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis), a highly commensal species in West Africa. Primary transmission to humans occurs through direct or indirect contact with rodent body fluids such as urine, feces, […]

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Understanding Social Resistance to the Ebola Response in the Forest Region of the Republic of Guinea: An Anthropological Perspective

Why did Ebola response initiatives in the Upper Guinea Forest Region regularly encounter resistance, occasionally violent? Extending existing explanations concerning local and humanitarian “culture” and “structural violence,” and drawing on previous anthropological fieldwork and historical and documentary research, this article argues that Ebola disrupted four intersecting but precarious social accommodations that had hitherto enabled radically […]

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Extending the “Social”: Anthropological Contributions to the Study of Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers

Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (VHFs) offer a frontier for a “One-Health” research agenda; the joined-up, or collaborative, effort of multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment (e.g. http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/). Multidisciplinary work on Lassa Fever and Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea and Sierra Leone explores the connections between humans, rodents such as […]

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Material Proximities and Hotspots: Toward an Anthropology of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers

This article outlines a research program for an anthropology of viral hemorrhagic fevers (collectively known as VHFs). It begins by reviewing the social science literature on Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa Fevers and charting areas for future ethnographic attention. The study theoretically elaborates the hotspot as a way of integrating analysis of the two routes of […]

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The Social and Political Lives of Zoonotic Disease Models: Narratives, Science and Policy

Zoonotic diseases currently pose both major health threats and complex scientific and policy challenges, to which modelling is increasingly called to respond. In this article we argue that the challenges are best met by combining multiple models and modelling approaches that elucidate the various epidemiological, ecological and social processes at work. These models should not […]

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Infection Control During Filoviral Hemorrhagic Fever Outbreaks: Preferences of Community Members and Health Workers in Masindi, Uganda

Interviews were conducted with health workers and community members in Masindi, Uganda on improving the acceptability of infection control measures used during an Ebola outbreak. Measures that promote cultural sensitivity and transparency of control activities were preferred and should be employed in future control efforts. We suggest assessing the practicality of body bags with viewing […]

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