A social media hoax, which falsely claimed that drinking or bathing in salt water could prevent infection from the deadly Ebola virus, has reportedly led to at least two deaths.
The social media hoax, which started as a text message sent by a Nigerian student, spread rapidly. It also spawned word-of-mouth rumours.
The message advised people to drink as much salt water as possible as a means of warding off the virus. It also claimed that Ebola was spreading through the air and instructed people to bath in hot salty water before daybreak to prevent infection.
The false story found fertile ground among communities living in fear of Ebola. And sadly, at least two people have died after drinking excessive amounts of salty water. The two who died are thought to have had high blood pressure and were therefore especially susceptible to high salt consumption.
A number of other people were hospitalized.
Of course, drinking or bathing in salt water will do nothing whatsoever to prevent infection from the Ebola virus. Nor does Ebola spread through the air.
This case illustrates the potential dangers of spreading misinformation. It is vital that Internet users verify information before sharing circulating messages, especially when it comes to health-related issues.