2014 Ebola Outbreak

2014 Ebola Outbreak

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Updated Nov 02, 2014 at 10:43AM EST by RandomMan.

Added Aug 08, 2014 at 07:29PM EDT by Don.

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Overview

The 2014 Ebola Outbreak is an ongoing epidemic of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa that first began in Guinea in March 2014. Following its subsequent spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, which has claimed the lives of at least 3,100 patients since the initial outbreak, the Ebola epidemic has been declared “the largest, most complex and most severe we’ve ever seen” by the World Health Organization (WHO) and major news outlets around the world.

Background

The Ebola virus disease was first identified in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976. On March 25th, 2014, the WHO announced they had received reports of an Ebola virus outbreak occurring in Guinea with a total of 86 suspected cases (59 deaths). On March 31st, a team of five sent by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control was dispatched to Guinea to assist the Guinea Ministry of Health with handling the outbreak. Within one month, 242 cases had been reported with 142 deaths. On May 23rd, the virus reached the Guinea capital city Conakry.

About the Disease

When contracted by humans, the Ebola virus induces a disease that can cause fever, sore throat, muscle pains, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys, bleeding problems. Between 50% and 90% of those infected with the virus are killed by the disease. The virus transmits through contact with blood or other bodily fluids from infected animals, including humans monkeys and fruit bats. Treatment for those infected includes re-hydration and administering intravenous fluids. A cure for the disease has yet to be discovered.



Notable Developments

International Spread

In late March 2014, the disease had spread to the Lofa and Nimba counties in Liberia. In late May, several suspected cases were reported in Sierra Leone. On July 25th, Liberian Ministry of Finance official Patrick Sawyer was reported as the first case in Nigeria. The hospital was subsequently quartined in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.



In early August, American aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected with the virus. The two were flown to the United States for further treatment at the Atlanta Emory University Hospital in Georgia. On August 8th, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared that the outbreak had reached a “public health emergency of International concern” (PHEIC).

First Patient Discovery in the United States

On September 30th, CNBC[7] reported that the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C) confirmed the first case of Ebola within the United States. Following the news reports, the stock shares of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, a company developing a drug to treat Ebola, rose upwards of 20%.[8]



Later that evening, the CDC director Thomas Frieden revealed that the unidentified patient was being examined under quarantine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. On the following day, The Telegraph[10] reported that the patient had initially been sent home from the hospital with antibiotics before his condition deteriorated. On October 8th, a little over a week since his diagnosis, the hospital’s spokesperson stated that the patient, identified as 42-year-old Liberian-born American Thomas Eric Duncan who recently traveled to his home country, had died, marking the first Ebola fatality in the United States.



Online Reactions

On August 1st, Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health participated in an “ask me anything” (AMA) post on the /r/science[1] subreddit, where he welcomed questions regarding the Ebola outbreak. On August 4th, Redditor hectorzero submitted an image macro of a Swiss alphorn player titled “Whenever I hear about the Ebola virus, this is what I think” to /r/funny[3] (shown below). On August 6th, The Hot Zone author Richard Preston did an AMA about the Ebola virus on the /r/IAmA[2] subreddit.



Ebola-Chan

Ebola-Chan is a female anime character designed as an anthropomorphic representation of the Ebola virus. The character was created on 4chan in response to growing concerns regarding the West African Ebola outbreak in the summer of 2014. The original image of Ebola-Chan was created by a Pixiv user sly on August 4th, 2014. The earliest archived appearance of Ebola-Chan on 4chan was submitted in a thread posted to the /a/ (anime) board on the same day, featuring an illustration of a young female anime character wearing a nurse outfit, holding a bloody skull and wearing a pony tail hair style ending in strains of the Ebola virus (shown below).



Kent Brantly ‘I Am Growing Stronger’

On August 8th, 2014, Kent Brantly, an American doctor who had contracted Ebola during his stay in Africa, released his first public statement since contracting Ebola stating that he was “growing stronger every day.” Various news outlets wrote about this statement, such as Time,[11] The Guardian,[12] Fox News[13] and Mashable.[14]

On August 13th, a thread[15] was made on 4chan’s /pol/ board where Brantly’s statement was jokingly received to define that he was gaining superhuman abilities from Ebola. Following this, various images were posted in that thread where pictures of Brantly were photoshopped to give him glowing eyes and other signs of superhman powers. The thread was subsequently screencaptured (shown below) and posted on the r/4chan sub-Reddit[16] where it received over 4,000 upvotes in a few days.



“White People” Conspiracy Hoax

While the character began as a relatively innocuous fan art trend, others on the site soon began rallying behind an international scheme to fabricate a death cult movement based on a conspiracy hoax that Ebola was “invented by white people,” hoping it would catch on in the internet forums in regions where the local population have been heavily affected by the virus.



According to the excerpts of 4chan posts as cited by Vocative[6] and International Business Times[5], some users openly expressed their desire to see the dissemination of such a racially divisive rumor, which would further incite the escalating tension between the blacks and whites in the continent:

Anonymous posted: “If this ends up in the news, increasing tensions between blacks and whites in Africa--where they are already superstitious and think Ebola is made by whitey… Sure, we’ve not seen the flowering of this yet, but it’s just been a few days of death cult posts. Ebola-chan herself isn’t that old either. Give it time to work.”

Anonymous posted: “If we keep it up, soon enough some African media will report it and people will start to spread the word that Ebola might be beign spreaded [sic] by the white devil and that’s enough to help Ebola-chan.”

By September 17th, the fandomization of Ebola-Chan on English-speaking image board communities had reached the earshot of Nigerian discussion forum Nairaland[4], where the character quickly became vilified as a “plague goddess” summoned by ill-wishing Westerners who perform “magical rituals in order to spread the disease and kill people.”

There is a new racist cult in Europe and America. They hate Africans and worship an ebola demoness who they call “Ebola-Chan”. They perform magical rituals in order to spread the disease and kill people. They target the area they want to infect next using blood sacrifices. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Apparently even some Ebola doctors are part of the cult and instead of treating the disease are deliberately spreading it. I even heard rumour that they eat the heart of victims because they think it grants magical protection though I don’t know if that’s true. Some pictures of shrines and sacrifices I found:



Save Excalibur Campaign

On October 6th, the Spanish Health Minister confirmed that María Teresa Romero Ramos, an auxiliary nurse who had cared for the infected patients at the Hospital Carlos III in Madrid, has been tested and diagnosed positive for Ebola, marking the first patient to have contracted the deadly disease outside Africa. As a result, at least 50 individuals who had been in contact with the nurse were reportedly called in for monitoring, including seven in quarantine at the same hospital for further investigation. On the following day, amidst the escalating concerns of public health in the European country, Madrid’s regional government announced its intention to euthanize the nurse’s pet dog, Excalibur, citing concerns of public health risks it may pose to other humans. The decision was quickly met by heavy oppositions from animal rights activists, some of whom went on to form a human barricade outside of the nurse’s apartment in order to prevent the removal of the dog. Meanwhile, others quickly launched online petitions in an attempt to convince the Spanish officials otherwise, including a Change.org petition that garnered more than 402,000 signatures in less than 72 hours. However, on October 9th, despite the efforts to save the animal in the social media, the Spanish authorities confirmed that the dog had been sedated and euthanized as planned.



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