'Ebola reached Karnataka unfortunately!! Infected poor Sreejith-M.Tech, NIT suratkal, expired today. Please take precautions against this Virus and spread the awareness!! Friends plz eat tulsi leaves to safeguard yourself from this virus ebola becz this virus directly effects the human immune system. Tulsi leaves are good for the human immune system so this is a precaution to save u from the ebola virus... Ebola virus Spreaded in mumbai toooo Use hot water and salt to take your bath in the morning, do the same when you want to drink water(hot and salt) . ... It is said to be a traditional vaccine for Ebola. Please don't keep this information to yourself send to all your contacts including your enemies. God bless you as you share this.'
This message has been doing the rounds on Whatsapp and other social media sites, and is about how a young boy died due to an infection caused by the Ebola virus. While the prankster(s) were clearly trying to create panic in Karnataka, Mumbai and India, this message has been deemed a hoax.
They also tried to spread inaccurate information about how you can stay safe from the virus; information that can do much more harm than good. While, their motive is unknown, it sure seems like they wanted to create panic and fear. Fear-mongering is one of the worst things that can happen during an outbreak. Not only does it lead to people trying desperate things to rid themselves of the disease (case-and-point the tip on using tulsi, hot water and salt), but it may also lead to a faster spread of the disease and death. So, to help you figure out if this message has any truth to it, we deconstruct it and tell you why you should not believe everything you read.
Firstly, Sreejith, the MTech student who died in Surathkal did not suffer from an infection caused due to the Ebola virus. In fact, the boy died due to a severe lung infection that went undiagnosed for a long period of time. After being inundated with calls enquiring about the boy's cause of death, the Dean of student welfare at NITK, Uday Kumar Yaragatti, told The Indian Express, 'Sreejith, who was a state-level badminton player, died due to lung infection on July 21. Even the doctor who treated him confirmed this, as the disease was not detected in the early stages. Miscreants are tarnishing our image claiming that the first victim of Ebola is from NITK.'
Tulsi won't help against ebola
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Secondly, tulsi leaves will not help in keeping the virus at bay. Yes, the leaves do have an immune-boosting property, but in no way will thathelp. The Ebola virus is extremely potent and has been known to infect completely healthy people as well. Additionally, the fact about drinking warm water with salt will certainly not help you in any way. In fact, if you drink too much salt water, it can lead to kidney failure and death due to dehydration.
Ebola has not spread to Mumbai
Finally, Ebola has not spread to Mumbai. If it did, it would be quite dangerous to travel in trains, buses and be in crowded places (as the virus spreads through body fluids including sweat). In general, living in the city would become near impossible. There has been no official news of the virus infecting anyone in the city and fear and mass hysteria serve no useful purpose ever, especially in times of crisis.
Find your inner sceptic and don't take everything you read or hear at face value. Understand that some messages are just to sensationalise certain events and have no truth to them.
Image source: Getty Images
What is ebola virus?
The Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe condition caused by a virus from the Filoviridae family. Known to be a condition that is transmitted from animals to humans, this virus spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal.
According to Dr Ratan, 'There aren't any vaccinations available as of now, so basic hygiene is of importance and a must be followed in order to prevent the onset of the condition. Simple activities like washing your hands well, drinking water from a clean source, maintaining general hygiene and cooking your meat well, can all serve as precautionary measures. Apart from that people should avoid crowded places, or those that are known to have an outbreak. It is also important that if they notice any early symptoms, they should visit a doctor immediately.'