I hesitated writing this article, so as not to add fodder to the ridiculous rumors surrounding Ebola and zombies, rumors that won’t die– like the undead itself. By now, the latest report of a couple of Liberian Ebola victims miraculously “resurrecting” from the dead is already a few days old, but that story refuses to die– like the undead as well. So, I write this article to help combat the misinformation, not add to it.
First, let’s take a look at the report at TheNewDawnLiberia.com. Here it is verbatim (complete with grammatical errors and misspellings):
Two Ebola patients, who died of the virus in separate communities in Nimba County have reportedly resurrected in the county. The victims, both females, believed to be in their 60s and 40s respectively, died of the Ebola virus recently in Hope Village Community and the Catholic Community in Ganta, Nimba.
But to the amazement of residents and onlookers on Monday, the deceased reportedly regained life in total disbelief. The NewDawn Nimba County correspondent said the late Dorris Quoi of Hope Village Community and the second victim only identified as Ma Kebeh, said to be in her late 60s, were about to be taken for burial when they resurrected.
Ma Kebeh had reportedly been in door for two nights without food and medication before her alleged death. Nimba County has had bazaar [sic] news of Ebola cases with a native doctor from the county, who claimed that he could cure infected victims, dying of the virus himself last week.
News of the resurrection of the two victims has reportedly created panic in residents of Hope Village Community and Ganta at large, with some citizens describing Dorris Quoi as a ghost, who shouldn’t live among them. Since the Ebola outbreak in Nimba County, this is the first incident of dead victims resurrecting.
That last sentence is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to even explain why. Looking past the obvious fact that the two women in question here, were not in fact dead before they “regained life in total disbelief,” this really goes a long way in illustrating the level of disarray this epidemic is creating. Of course this distracts from the real issues, covering everything in a blanket of superstition and ignorance. This is quickly becoming an epidemic of panic and misinformation, in as much as it is a health crisis. We wrote about some of this misinformation in our article ‘Ebola Zombie’ Rumors a few weeks ago.
Matthew Wright, in his excellent article Why Ebola Puts the Zombie Apocalypse into Proper Perspective explains what the Ebola outbreak and a zombie pandemic DO have in common:
Everybody you know and love is suddenly snatched away by a quick and lethal infection that seems to have come out of nowhere. It spreads by touch. If you help them … you risk getting it. It devastates families. It destroys organised society.
…the fact that we envisage the social impact of a ‘zombie apocalypse’ in terms that so closely match a real uber-pandemic disease outbreak is indicative of the depth to which our fear of pandemic is etched into our cultural make-up.
If using a fictional zombie pandemic helps educate the general public about the very real danger of an epidemic like Ebola, then I, for one, am all for it. The problem as I see it, though, is that zombies are not being used as a metaphor in these cases. If left unchecked, the next reports we’re going to be reading about will be Ebola victims being separated from the populous and shot in the head.