I wanted to bring a few different conspiracy theories to you all so you could see what is floating around in the dark corners of the Web and maybe even have an answer when a member of the community asks what the Red Cross has to say about these rumors.
Over the past several weeks, the fear and lack of knowledge about Ebola has been made apparent with calls asking us to present on the topic. They want to know how the disease is spread, what the symptoms are and how likely they are to get the virus. Along with these concerns, there is a rumor that the Red Cross has been spreading the Ebola virus and that is the only way that people have been infected. Let me just state: that is FALSE!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease can be spread from infected human to human or infected bat/primate to human. A human can be infected with the virus through direct contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids and the virus can only enter the body through broken skin or a mucous membrane. A human can also be infected by a bat and/or primate that is carrying the infection through the same method of transfer and additionally through consuming said animal that is infected with Ebola. It CANNOT be transferred through the air or through the water.
The symptoms can appear anywhere from two to twenty-one days after being exposed and they are very similar to the flu. They can involve a fever, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, stomach pain, lack of appetite, joint and muscle ache and—the one that differs from influenza—unexplained bleeding and bruising. The virus can only be transmitted while these symptoms are present. The likelihood of getting the virus in the U.S. is low. If you are a healthcare worker in West Africa or a person living in those affected countries, than the risk is higher. As for us here, not traveling or caring for the sick, we should be worried more about the flu than Ebola.
Now to the really fun stuff: conspiracy theories!
The current theory that hits closest to home is about our Red Cross. If you have not heard it already, it has been rumored that the Red Cross is in cahoots with the U.S. government to infect the people of Africa so that the government can sneak into Africa for its diamonds and oil.
The Ebola virus and its varying strands have been around for decades, since 1976. Additionally, the Red Cross does not force vaccinations, and is not a government agency tied exclusively to the United States. The Red Cross an international organization that provides humanitarian relief to those who need it across the globe. At no time could the American Red Cross have more power over the other Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters.
Lastly, I will leave you with an excerpt from the American Red Cross’s response that I feel shows how amazing the Red Cross and its volunteers are and how a few crazy conspiracy theorists are not going to bring us down!
“These allegations are an insult to the 4,000 local volunteers- themselves citizens of West African nations-who have been working tirelessly to help their neighbors. These volunteers have worked around the clock to provide prevention education, assist with burials, and provide comfort to families impacted by Ebola. In addition, the Red Cross opened a 60 bed treatment center in Sierra Leone. Patients have already started to recover and have been released from the center.”
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
American Red Cross Central California Region