That’s Karma: Man Gets Ebola After Stealing Infected Patient’s Cell Phone

Karma comes swiftly when you steal a phone from an Ebola patient

  • Share
  • Read Later

Hand holding a cellphone with radiation sign.

Stealing is wrong. Stealing from hospital patients is very wrong. Swiping a cell phone from an Ebola victim is just plain dumb.

Western Uganda is in the midst of an outbreak of the Ebola virus, with at least 20 cases reported so far. The death toll stands at 16 from the easily-transmitted virus which causes severe fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and unstoppable bleeding in victims. There is no treatment and no vaccine, leading to governmental intervention: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni took to the airwaves to dissuade people from certain forms of contact that could spread the virus. Unfortunately, President Museveni failed to mention to not steal cell phones from Ebola victims.

(MORE: Urban Ebola? Why the Latest Outbreak in Uganda Raises Worries)

A local man, obviously unconcerned with the potential consequences, stole a mobile phone from a patient in an isolation ward at Uganda’s Kagadi Hospital, while supposedly pretending to comfort victims in the ward acting as the hub for the nation’s Ebola victims. According to a report in Uganda’s Sunday Monitor newspaper, the Ebola patient filed a report with police about the stolen phone before succumbing to the virus and passing away. When the suspected thief started using the phone, detectives were able to trace it. Not that they needed to, because soon enough the thief turned up at the hospital displaying Ebola-like symptoms and seeking medication. At the hospital, the suspected thief reportedly confessed to stealing the phone and handed it over to police.

(MORE: The Science of Contagion: Why You Should Be Scared of Hollywood’s Latest Pandemic Thriller)

“The suspect is admitted at Kagadi Hospital with clinical signs of Ebola,” Dr. Dan Kyamanywa, the Kibaale District Health Officer, told the Monitor. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak originated in Nyanswiga village in Uganda’s Kibaale district, 140 miles (225 km) west of Kampala, the capital. The disease has since spread to Kampala where patients are being treated in isolation wards, which are germ-proof, though clearly not theft-proof.

MORE: 6 More Ugandans Admitted with Possible Ebola

MORE: Virus Hunter: How One Scientist Is Preventing the Next Pandemic