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Most Victims of Ebola Virus are Women. Why?

By Meseret Desta Haileyesus(SMW,BSC,MPH) | 25 Sep, 2014

The Ministry of Health in Liberia also reported that about 75 per cent of the Ebola deaths it has counted so far have been women. Why? I want to bring this issue for discussion.

Meseret Desta Haileyesus(Bsc,MPH)



Elizabeth Glaser Moderator Emeritus Replied at 7:39 PM, 25 Sep 2014

I don't have a specific answer her and hope others with more data can offer information, but one explanation may be that women tend to be caregivers for the sick and to assist in preparing the dead , therefore they may have a higher intensity exposure and be more likely to get ill. An additional component to this would be that as caretakers women may not present for care until much later in their illness and therefore be too ill to benefit from supportive care.

Ariel Raupagh Replied at 10:27 PM, 25 Sep 2014

Can I suggest an evolutionary basis? If virions are present in seminal fluid for weeks after a male patient recovers, this could increase the capacity for the virus to spread significantly. Just a thought. I am sure there are many factors at play. Also, are more women infected than men, or is it the rate of recovery that is different? This was unclear to me.

Dale Battistoli Replied at 4:12 AM, 26 Sep 2014

The main reason for the divergent rates seems to be differential gendered
*social*, rather than biological, risk factors:

"This was not targeted at them, but it came as a result of the roles they
were playing," explained Josephine Odera, the regional director for U.N.
Women in West and Central Africa.

"In families, they are the ones responsible for taking care of the sick. In
certain communities, they are the ones responsible for washing the corpses.
They're the ones responsible for dressing them," Odera said.

"So those kind of care roles for women in families and communities have put
them at higher risk of exposure and many of them have thus found themselves
dying," she added.

Women are also most likely to be nurses and the ones taking care of
cleaning and laundry in the public health sector. (source

Dale Battistoli
Field Manager | Gestionnaire de terrain
West Africa | Afrique de l'Ouest
Dimagi, Inc.
s: dale.battistoli
t: +221 78 291 23 21

2014-09-26 2:28 GMT+00:00 Ariel Raupagh via GHDonline <>:

christophe millien Replied at 6:57 AM, 26 Sep 2014

Beside that african culture permit to a man to have seral wifes amd the
social culturel aspect can be also a factor

Abel Livingi Replied at 9:53 AM, 26 Sep 2014

A typical woman's day involves a lot of contact with so many people and things. From the information we have this far, Ebola spreads mainly through contact.
It is on record that there are more women who are illiterate than men. We can make an assumption that most of those who are illiterate do not what Ebola is and how it is spread are thus are more vulnerable to getting communicable diseases.
And as others have put it, women are naturally care givers and thus are more susceptible to Ebola attack.

Elizabeth Glaser Moderator Emeritus Replied at 11:38 PM, 26 Sep 2014

Was the difference in gender related to incidence of infection or in case fatality? My understanding from the presentation at MGH/Harvard Center for Global Health last week was that there was no difference in mortality by gender . While more women may get infected with Ebola because of their care taking role, for every 100 women who get ill the death rate was not significantly different than the death rate for 100 afflicted men.

The person answering the question did say that there was an age differential in that those under age fifty regardless of gender had a significantly lower mortality rate than those over 50 years of age. Why might that be the case?

Meseret Desta Haileyesus(SMW,BSC,MPH) Replied at 12:36 AM, 27 Sep 2014

Thanks all for your contribution
Meseret Desta Haileyesus

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