Liberia Finds 17 Ebola Patients Who Fled Mob

Being treated in different clinic, but officials fear damage has been done
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2014 7:42 AM CDT
Liberia Finds 17 Ebola Patients Who Fled Mob
Health workers with buckets, as part of their Ebola virus prevention protective gear, at an Ebola treatment center in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.    (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

The 17 Ebola patients who fled a health center during a riot Saturday in Liberia have been found—however, health officials there fear the damage has already been done. The patients apparently turned themselves in after being traced, and are now at a hospital elsewhere in Monrovia, the country's information minister tells the BBC. "All those hooligans who looted the center are now probable carriers of the disease. They took mattresses and bedding that were soaked with fluids from the patients," he says, as per Sky News. Witnesses saw the patients "disappear" into the community after the riot, says one source; and health experts fear the incident could stymie efforts to contain the outbreak. Monrovia's West Point township alone is densely populated and lacks clean water or proper sanitation, Sky adds.

It's not clear what sparked the riot, though there are troubling reports that protesters believed Ebola is a hoax perpetrated by the government to get foreign aid, reports Sky. They wanted to close the health center, and so far it's still shuttered; police are waiting for protective equipment before they will open its doors. The UN said today that Ebola has now killed 1,229 people this year. Meanwhile, a small bit of good news: the experimental drug Zmapp has helped three Liberian doctors infected with Ebola, BBC adds. (More Ebola stories.)

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