Bishop Gaspar Joao Domingos
April 27, 2005
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) — A United Methodist bishop in Angola is hoping the church
can help reduce the panic that has occurred in that African country
since the outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus.
Gaspar Joao Domingos of the denomination’s West Angola area, said he
became aware of the virus last October. “But those were very isolated
cases and there was not much attention about it,” he told United
Methodist News Service through a translator.
outbreak in recent weeks, however, had killed 230 people by mid-April,
including 14 nurses and two doctors, according to the New York Times. A
cousin to the Ebola virus, Marburg spreads through blood, vomit and
other bodily fluids and is highly contagious, even after the victim’s
death. In the recent outbreak, nine out of 10 of those infected have
discussed the problem while in New York to attend an April meeting of
the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious
United Methodist churches are in the provinces where the outbreak has
occurred, Domingos said. But because of quarantines, he has no
information about how many church members have been affected.
Fear about the disease has increased because doctors and nurses have been infected and died, he added.
in general, are afraid to go to the hospital,” he said. This has made
controlling the virus more difficult, and the situation may be getting
worse instead of better, he said.
issues have added to the problems of infection. If a person identified
with the virus dies, health workers in protected gear remove the body to
a special section in the cemetery. But this also prevents the family
from having traditional funeral ceremonies and rituals.
the other hand, the bishop noted, if such ceremonies are held, “the
people who come to the funeral can catch the virus from the dead
hopes that medical personnel will be able to learn from the experience
of the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and
perhaps apply those techniques in Angola.
addition, he said, the church needs to raise awareness about the
Marburg virus, and he has discussed possible strategies for such a
campaign with the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
want to be able to do away with the fear of it,” he said, so the
country can cope with the situation to the point where it can be
“The more we run from it,” he said, “the closer it comes chasing us.”
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.