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Did They Die From Ebola? WHO Trains Burial Teams to Collect Samples to Determine Cause of Death

Published 11/26/2014 by Global Communities

Did They Die From Ebola? 

WHO helps train burial teams in Liberia to collect samples from dead bodies to determine cause of death.
This article was originally published by the World Health Organization. 
Dead bodies can be very contagious when it comes to Ebola, but that doesn’t mean that every deceased person has died due to the disease. In order to speed up the process to know the cause of death of each patient, WHO is working closely with the Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research to train burial teams on how to collect an oral swab from deceased patients safely.
Since the last week of October, the safe burial teams of the Liberian Red Cross and Global Communities in Montserrado county, including Monrovia, have been safely collecting oral swab samples from people who have died. The collected swab samples are taken to the Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research for further analysis to find out if the deceased patient had Ebola.

Since 22 October, Kamal Ait-Ikhlef from WHO has been teaching a number of safe burial teams of Global Communities and the Liberian Red Cross on how to safely collect an oral swab sample of a deceased person (in this example using role-play). The procedure consists of 5 steps, including preparing all the materials needed to take the sample, putting on the personal protective equipment, collecting the oral swab sample of the deceased patient, preparing the collection tube for transport, and ultimately removing the personal protective equipment safely. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere

The trainees undergo hands-on and practical teaching sessions with their team members. While doing role-play, the safe burial teams are taught how to safely collect the oral swab sample from the deceased patient. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere

A safe burial team is called to the outskirts of the Liberian capital Monrovia to collect a body. Dr Lisa Hensley of the United States National Institute of Health and WHO logistician Kamal Ait-Ikhlef dress themselves up in their personal protective equipment. They will check on how the trained burial teams in the field take the saliva swab sample of the deceased person. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere

This member of the safe burial team has taken a swab sample of the deceased person, and here disposes the tube with the swab sample in a plastic bag. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere

The plastic bag with the saliva swab sample is put into a container for easy transport to the Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research for further analysis. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere

Once the saliva swap sample has been taken, the safe burial team can start their regular work of disinfecting the house and putting the deceased person in a body bag. While carrying the body bag, the sprayer makes sure that the route the team follows is disinfected. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere

When the job is done, the burial team gets disinfected and can then remove their personal protective equipment safely. Photo: WHO/P. Desloovere