Traditional funeral rites in West Africa that include kissing and touching a dead body are “superspreaders” of Ebola and must be halted, researchers said Thursday.
If not, Liberia can expect 224 new cases per day by the beginning of December, and 348 new Ebola infections per day by the end of December, according to the study in the journal Science.
“To stem Ebola transmission in Liberia, it is imperative to simultaneously restrict traditional burials, which are effectively serving as superspreader events,” it said.
Funeral practices often include washing, touching and kissing bodies that are still capable of transmitting Ebola, and may have particularly high levels of the live virus in excretions.
The findings were based on mathematical modeling done by scientists at Yale University, Oregon State University and the Ministry of Health in Liberia, the country hardest hit by the current Ebola epidemic.