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Dr. Francis Karteh, Liberia’s chief medical officer and a United Methodist, seen here in Ganta, in February, confirmed ten people were dead from an unidentified cause in Greenville City, Liberia, but insisted the deaths were not related to the Ebola virus.

Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS

Dr. Francis Karteh, Liberia’s chief medical officer and a United Methodist, seen here in Ganta, in February, confirmed ten people were dead from an unidentified cause in Greenville City, Liberia, but insisted the deaths were not related to the Ebola virus.

2 United Methodists among 10 mysterious deaths

By Julu Swen
April 27, 2017 | UMNS

Two United Methodists are among several people who died recently in Greenville in Sinoe County after eating food at a funeral. The cause of deaths are still under investigation but the Liberian government has ruled out Ebola.

The Rev. Snoh Myers, district superintendent of the United Methodist Sinoe District, said a third United Methodist remains in critical condition.

Dr. Francis Karteh, a United Methodist and Liberia’s chief medical officer, said that as of April 27, 10 of the 18 people affected by the food had died.

“We are running several tests and applying several theories, but this is definitely not an Ebola outbreak,” Karteh said.

Karteh said the incident was triggered by food the victims reportedly ate after the funeral. “The Health Ministry and other health entities are deeply involved in this study and will announce the real cause of the Greenville deaths soon,” he emphasized.

The one United Methodist still sick is at home because he is afraid to go to the hospital, said the Rev. Snoh Myers, district superintendent of the Sinoe District in the Liberia Episcopal Area.

The three United Methodists are from the Nimely Nah United Methodist Church and the St. John United Methodist Church in Sinoe County, southern Liberia. Julietta Sims and Uriah Moore died. The third member affected is Abraham Moore.

“He said he does not want to go to the hospital because of what he saw the people at the hospital do to his brother,” Myers said.

Myers said though the government of Liberia has told residents of Greenville that the unidentified cause of these deaths is not Ebola most of the people who were affected by the “repast food” are afraid to come out of hiding because of how the health workers were treating those who were taken to the hospital.

“My member said he cannot go to the hospital because he saw the nurses spraying his brother (now dead) with chemicals,” Myers noted. “The people are in fear right now and there may be more United Methodists out there who are impacted by this situation and the report has not reach me,” he lamented.

Sinoe County Health Team, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners are working with to control the situation while samples from dead bodies and patients have been collected for laboratory confirmation. Meanwhile health workers in the area have been advised to wear their personal protective equipment before attending to patients.

In June 2016, WHO declared Liberia free of active Ebola virus transmission, the last of three West African countries at the epicenter of the world's worst outbreak of the disease.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org