Despite continuous assurances by doctors and world health experts, people in the West are freaking out over the Ebola virus – especially after the first case in the United States was confirmed this week.
Media hype and over-sensationalized reporting, for the most part, is to blame, and it’s getting worse by the day.
Just to to give an example, R&B musician Akon performed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an inflatable bubble during a massive concert organized by the United Nations’ Peace One Day, which is dedicated to advancing the UN's International Day of Peace.
Although the concert happened in the second-to-last week of September, it’s making rounds on the Internet and trending in the U.S. almost two weeks later because a certain “news website” claims the rapper chose to crowd surf in a ball because he did not want to contract the deadly Ebola virus.
akon crowd surfing in a plastic bubble to avoid catching ebola same pic.twitter.com/7K3W8ykjUD— courtney (@courtneyrenaldi) October 3, 2014
Akon is a genius for the bubble idea to prevent him from contacting ebola. I gotta get me one too 💀 pic.twitter.com/Pp5WnRz2Pc— Whit (@TheTrillandWavy) October 3, 2014
The news, of course, is completely blown out of proportion and may not be true for obvious reasons.
First and foremost, humans contract Ebola through direct contact with the blood, secretions or other bodily fluids of infected animals or humans – via mouth, nose, eyes and vagina.
It essentially means that Akon could not possibly have contracted the virus just by rolling over a bunch of people.
Akon spent quite a lot of time in Africa mingling with his fans. He took pictures as well – without wearing a hazmat suit.
And he looks quite comfortable:
Last but not the least, Akon does these “bubble crowd surfs” all the time.
For example, here’s Akon in a bubble in Montreal in 2011:
From Perth, Australia:
And in Dubai:
So, was he trying not to contract diseases in these countries as well? Of course not.
Ebola’s episodic outbreaks are sensationalized by the media, the government and nongovernmental organizations seeking funding. And it just doesn’t make any sense when there are other maladies that cause far more deaths in Africa and other regions all over the world.
Sure, given the first reported case in the U.S., people are most likely to panic, but hyperventilating and overreacting never help.
James Ball, a data journalist working for the Guardian investigations team, wrote that the most real effect for millions of people reading about Ebola will be fear and stigma – thanks to the hyped-up media coverage.
“During the SARS outbreak of 2003, Asian-Americans became the targets of just that, with public health hotlines inundated with calls from Americans worried about 'buying Asian merchandise,' 'living near Asians,' 'going to school with Asians,' and more,” Ball stated.
“In the coming months, almost none of us will catch the Ebola virus. Many of us, though, will get fevers, headaches, shivers and more."
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