ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!!!… lol jks, the misconceptions surrounding the Ebola Epidemic
Myth 1: No, you will not rise from the dead
This one really made my skin crawl. Around two weeks ago now the internet went into panic mode because of a hoax claiming to have PHOTO EVIDENCE and BREAKING NEWS of Ebola patients rising from the dead!
NO PEOPLE. EBOLA IS NOT THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE VIRUS FROM THE WALKING DEAD.
Glad I got that out of my system. Personally I think it’s quite disgusting that there are people out there getting a kick out of spreading fake science to instill fear in the misinformed… not to mention the fact that they are treating a severe humanitarian crisis as some kind of joke.
This is one instance where good science communication is absolutely crucial, so I thought that I would highlight a few key messages that need to be put out in the open. Fast.
Firstly, there needs to be a lot less of this guy floating around the internet:
The ‘Ebola zombie’… who is really from a movie called World War Z. Face palm.
Image Source: Ebola Zombie – URL: http://schellstudio.com/gallery/albums/ms-black%20zombie/mask-black-zombie-08.jpg – Original article has since been removed
So what actually is Ebola?
Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a virus that targets blood vessel epithelial cells, hepatocytes and immune cells. Like any virus, it hijacks normal cell functioning by introducing its own genetic material (negative sense single stranded RNA for bio-buffs) and producing its own proteins and virus particles. As a result, the body releases inflammatory molecules that damage the infected cells. When these inflammatory molecules attack the blood vessel walls, the blood vessels begin to ‘leak’, leading to the most well known symptom of Ebola; haemorrhage, or bleeding out of the body orifaces.
Ebola is most certainly not a brain controlling virus that kills you and then brings you back to life to eat other human beings.
Myth 2: You can catch Ebola walking down the street
One key message that has been a little slow to get out there is that Ebola is NOT transmitted through the air. It has to be passed by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of a symptomatic person. Not only that, but just touching these fluids is not enough to become infected, because the virus can only enter your body through your mucous membranes, meaning your eyes, mouth, respiratory tract and digestive system.
Breathe easy, that guy who just sneezed next to you didn’t give you Ebola.
Look out here comes Ebola!
Image Source: The Walking Dead Zombies – s4 ep16 – URL: http://www.contactmusic.com/article/breaking-bad-prequel-the-walking-dead-amc_4136072
Myth 3: We should stop all planes in and out of West Africa and withdraw all aid
This is potentially one of the most dangerous myths yet. Due to the rising panic that Ebola is going to reach Western society, many people are protesting the West’s involvement in delivering aid at the source of the issue.
This is the worst possible thing that we could be doing to prevent the spread of Ebola around the world. In order to tackle the issue, it needs to be addressed at the source, not by cutting West Africa off from the rest of the world and allowing innocent people to suffer without access to the medical care and protective wear that they require.
Get scared about Ebola for the people living in the thick of it without the resources to deal with it. Not because you are scared of contracting it yourself.
Image Source: Ebola and the Media Illustration – URL: http://mic.com/articles/100618/one-powerful-illustration-shows-exactly-what-s-wrong-with-media-coverage-of-ebola?utm_source=huffingtonpost.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_facebook
Fact: We should be scared about Ebola because is a serious problem, but the West is looking at it wrong.