US/World

Man Gets Ebola From Cell Phone He Stole From Ebola Patient

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A man stole a cell phone from a patient with Ebola, only to develop Ebola himself.

Two weeks ago, the man, 40 years old, traveled three kilometers, or almost two miles, to the Kagadi Hospital in Uganda. Authorities say that he visited the hospital with the purpose of stealing a phone.

Allegedly, he broke into the isolation ward, unsuspected by the hospital guards. Immediately after the phone was stolen, the victim reported its theft to the hospital's security team. Since that date, the victim has succumbed to Ebola.

Police detectives began tracking the suspect, who was using the phone to call his friends. During the interim, he started exhibiting symptoms of Ebola. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola "is characterized by fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients." The man returned to the hospital to receive medication.

After his return, the suspect confessed to the theft of the phone. Strangely, he said during his confession that he had gone to the hospital to offer comfort to the victims. He later admitted that he knew no one there.

At the end of last month, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw an outbreak of the Ebola virus. The disease is extremely deadly and has appeared intermittently since its first diagnosed appearance in 1976. People can be exposed to Ebola through direct contact with blood or bodily secretions, which is why it is very often spread among family members.

Ebola can also be spread through contact with an object that has been contaminated with bodily secretions, like needles or, in this case, a cell phone. At least 19 people have died of the disease during the current outbreak in Uganda, and 10 more have died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Officials in Uganda say that the outbreak is now under control.

The phone was worth Shs60,000, or the equivalent of 24 dollars.

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