Health experts are worried that a lack of belief in the Ebola virus is causing the disease to spread even further. The virus is on the rise in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and has already claimed the lives of more than 600 people since last August. Meanwhile, hundreds more are infected and are currently battling the disease. Considering how many people in this Central African country have been affected, you might think that most people would view it as a legitimate threat to public health and safety. Nevertheless, new studies show that many Congo citizens don’t believe the Ebola outbreak is real. In fact, many people think the whole thing has been made up as a scare tactic in an attempt to gain money or power, according to Learning English.
A recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal showed that one in four people in Congo that were questioned about the Ebola virus said they didn’t believe it was a genuine threat. Almost half stated that they believed the outbreak had been entirely fabricated. What has caused this drastic surge of misinformation? It is likely been brought about by the immense economic and political insecurity the nation faces. If Congo citizens don’t feel they can trust their own government, the fact that they are skeptical when warned about this public health threat seems more understandable.
Unfortunately, if these false beliefs continue to run rampant, the disease is likely to continue to run rampant and claim even more lives. Congo health officials now have the challenging task of working to fight these misconceptions and get the public to take the outbreak seriously. If they are unable to accomplish this, those who are actually infected by the virus might choose not to seek treatment due to a lack of understanding and trust.
It is critical that those who have been infected by the Ebola virus are separated from the rest of the public in order to avoid further spreading the disease. This virus is spread through body fluids and isolation is the first step in ensuring others are not infected.
Tariq Riebl of the International Rescue Committee is working with other volunteers in the area to provide treatment to those infected. Sadly, he stated that many will not choose to seek the help that is available.
“It doesn’t matter if you have all the treatment options available because no one is ever arriving to take advantage of that.”