In DepthInfectious Diseases

In Congo, fighting a virus and a groundswell of fake news

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Science  18 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6424, pp. 213-214
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6424.213

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Summary

Occurring in a conflict zone amid controversial presidential elections, the current Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has proved to be fertile ground for conspiracy theories and political manipulation, which can hamper efforts to treat patients and fight the virus's spread. Public health workers have mounted an unprecedented effort to counter false rumors. For the first time in an Ebola outbreak, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and other agencies have joined forces in a single response team, which answers to the DRC's Ministry of Health and includes dozens of social scientists. They use the airwaves, social media, and meetings with community and religious leaders to fight misinformation.