Infectious Ebola conspiracy theories

Seven months ago, the World Health Organization announced the daunting exponential growth of the Ebola virus disease in African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Since then, 8,997 cases have been confirmed and more than 50 percent of those patients have died. Although most of these incidents are reported from the three aforementioned countries, the Ebola virus has waltzed its way to Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. Before Nigeria’s Ebola patient zero, Patrick Sawyer, was discovered and quickly quarantined, WHO officials were greatly worried that the contagion would have a terrifying effect on Nigeria because of the country’s lack of a proper health care infrastructure and weak sanitation protocols. However, contrary to those beliefs, Nigeria has successfully defeated the disease and won the praise from WHO and CDC officials, doctors and other Ebola-stricken countries. Unfortunately, it has also become an opportunity for conspiracy theorists to manipulate. Unlike viruses, there is no vaccine for conspiracies except isolating them from the public and eliminating the source. This pandemic becomes the ideal birthing ground for conspiracies, allowing individuals to exaggerate the already difficult situation and cause societal uprising.

A conspiracy theory is like a fire at the bottom of a string. Unless you put it out, the flame will gradually climb the string and incinerate it. The first theory, nurtured by a Liberian news agency, stated that the Ebola virus was not an unfortunate natural occurrence, but instead is a bio-weapon, meticulously engineered by the U.S. military for population control. Soon after, conspiracy theorists began accusing the U.S. CDC of patenting the disease and profiting from a vaccine. Finally, the small, unfounded theory developed by the Liberian news grew exponentially like the disease and reported that the “New World Order” is successfully manipulating countries by the imposed travel bans, patient isolation and martial law. Thankfully, these irrational theories are kept in the random corners of the Internet. Theories such as these will insidiously influence the public. Even Chris Brown stated that “this Ebola epidemic is a form of population control.” The main purpose of these theories is to influence the public and ruin the trust they people have in their government. If people like Chris Brown, who has over 13 million followers on Twitter, announce support for an insane theory, it can control the mindset of the public.

The Ebola epidemic is terrible and because of the absence of a widely-available cure, it is difficult to ascertain when the disease will stop spreading; however, Nigeria and Senegal both succeeded in isolating the virus, and this will refuel hope in the heavily-damaged countries in Africa. Sadly, these theories erode the public’s trust in the government when it is needed the most.

Additionally, because we don’t have an inside scoop on government agencies, it is difficult to interpret the substance in these theories, but whether they are true or not, we must do what is right, and that is to help those in need.