Hoaxes & Rumors

Have Ebola Victims Risen From the Dead?

Have Ebola Victims Risen From the Dead?

A series of reports claim that Ebola victims have risen from the dead. Today we’ll take a look at several versions of this story.

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The stories are untrue.

The current wave of “Ebola Zombie” stories have been circulating since at least early August 2014, and media in the U.S. and even China have attempted to debunk such rumors ever since.

The Washington Post reported on early versions of the rumor in August, citing a Chinese website which debunked the rumors circulating at the time. That website described zombies in these fake stories as dead people who “unexpectedly reawaken, entering into an extremely violent condition in which they bite any moving object, including humans and animals.”

With increased media attention on the virus, however, fake Ebola stories continue to spread online on an almost daily basis. Today we’re looking at some of the more popular “Ebola Zombie” stories which have circulated over the past several weeks.

Version 1: Two Victims Resurrected

The New Dawn, a Liberian website, reported in mid-September that two female Ebola victims had died in Nimba County, but were “reportedly resurrected.” The report states that “the deceased reportedly regained life in total disbelief.”  That report is published without any sources or statements from medical officials verifying the alleged events. The story has not been picked up by respected media, nor was it independently verified.

The link to The New Dawn has been removed because that website contains malicious pop-ups.

Version 2: Ebola Zombie

A story claiming that a third Liberian Ebola victim had risen from the dead and included a graphic photo as proof. This report appeared on fake news websites Huzlers and Celebtricity without links to any authoritative sources or corroboration. Both of these “satirical” websites use shocking and outlandish “news” to prompt internet sharing by readers who are unaware that the articles are fake. That story has been picked up by other websites, such as Big American News, in a story entitled, “Africa Confirms 3rd Ebola Victim Rises From the Dead, Releases Picture of First “Ebola Zombie” Captured.” 

The photo above, as our friends at Hoax Slayer point out, is actually an enhanced image of a zombie from the 2013 zombie movie World War Z.

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Version 3: Newsweek Report

An early-October report by Newsweek hinted that “recent footage by ABC’s Good Morning America suggests there may be a bit of truth to these zombie stories,” and presented video “evidence” of a man who allegedly “sprung back to life” before being taken to a crematorium.

Although Newsweek used colorful language such as “zombie” and “back to life,” it appears that the man in the story was simply believed to be dead, but still found clinging to life. ABC News – the source Newsweek used in their report – stated that, although the man was alive, it “looked like he would only last a few more hours.” His fate after the video was taken is unknown.

To further add confusion to the story, it was repeated in part by Huzlers.

Other Fake Ebola News

As Ebola has dominated the headlines over the past several weeks, a slew of fake news, hoaxes, and other false stories have attempted to piggyback on the increased spotlight on this topic. A recent viral satirical story stated that Sarah Palin urged President Obama to “invade Ebola.” Another stated that President Obama stated that Obamacare would not cover Ebola treatment.

In August 2014, fake “Ebola cures” began circulating online. These cures included taking Turmeric and ingesting or bathing in salt water. The World Health Organization and U.S. officials warned consumers to ignore such cures, stating that two Nigerians had actually died from ingesting too much salt water in hopes of a cure.

The Washington Post reported from early August noted that Chinese media had debunked a report that Ebola could be cured by drinking coffee mixed with raw onions.

Bottom Line

Although reports of Ebola Zombies dominate social media and fake news websites, these stories are not true and have come from questionable or satirical websites. In the case of the Newsweek article, it appears that a man clinging to life had been discovered alive, although his fate after that video is unknown, and he was not expected to live.

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