Here we go again with the relentless fear-mongering about Ebola.
The latest meme being circulated by right wingers and conspiracy theorists (two groups that have considerable overlap) is that Ebola actually has an incubation period of 42 days, not 21 as has been reported. SHOCK NEWS! SCIENTISTS ARE LYING TO US!
This claim is all over the loonball sites today; here’s a Google search to show you what I mean: Ebola 42 Days Incubation. You’ll see all the usual suspects in there; World Net Daily, Natural News, Infowars, Fox News, Breitbart, etc.
To back up these overheated claims, they’re all citing this article at the World Health Organization site: WHO | Are the Ebola Outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal Over?
The “42 days” meme is apparently drawn from this opening paragraph:
If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October. Likewise, Nigeria is expected to have passed through the requisite 42 days, with active surveillance for new cases in place and none detected, on Monday 20 October.
Notice that this does not say anything about an “incubation period,” and there’s a reason: because this is the time period the WHO uses to determine with full confidence whether an outbreak is officially over in an entire country.
Here’s the part all these crazy fear-mongering sites don’t mention:
The period of 42 days, with active case-finding in place, is twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease and is considered by WHO as sufficient to generate confidence in a declaration that an Ebola outbreak has ended.
It couldn’t be any clearer — this WHO report actually says explicitly that “42 days” is twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola. The number is derived from any potential contact’s 21 days plus any of those contact’s contacts’ 21 days.
Once again, the right wing sites are deliberately distorting the words of the WHO in order to cause panic about Ebola.
Meanwhile, today the WHO announced that, as expected, Nigeria Is Now Free of Ebola Virus Transmission. And the Ebola outbreak in Senegal was declared finished three days ago.