False claims of an Ebola outbreak at Burning Man spread by conspiracy theorists has sparked mass panic after severe flooding left 73,000 stranded in the Nevada desert.
Festival goers were hit with torrential rains over the weekend in a ‘post-apocalyptic style’ event, with many describing being ‘trapped’ at the site. It has not been reported that anyone has died.
Adding to the panic, people took to social media claiming that there had been an Ebola outbreak at the event.
The disease – which causes a violent fever, headache, diarrhoea, or vomiting – can be fatal and killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014-2016.
Accounts on X, previously known as Twitter, posted fake screenshots of alerts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning of a suspected outbreak.
People walk off the playa out near the Burning Man site on the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada following the torrential rain
A post on X sparked the mass hysteria. It claimed to show a CDC notice that warns of an Ebola outbreak in Nevada, which is false
The post read: ‘Ebola outbreak confirmed at Black Rock City, NV. It is recommended that all Burning Man attendees remain in their dwellings until further notice. Current State of Emergency in progress.’
It has since been removed and X has added Community Notes to any other post saying that it is misinformation.
Wide hysteria has now been spread regarding the outbreak, with many people taking the false claims seriously.
One account even doctored a Forbes news article, claiming that the outbreak was true. X has since added note to say this is a false claim.
Another account said: ‘If the Ebola outbreak at The Burning Man Festival is confirmed to be true, you can be sure that it was a pre-planned and calculated operation by our own Government.’
Another user claimed they had tested positive for Ebola after being at the festival on Saturday.
There is no evidence whatsoever to prove that anyone at Burning Man has contracted Ebola.
Burning Man is set on the prehistoric Lake Lahontan, which is a dry lakebed – known colloquially as the playa. The ground is made up of an alkaline dust, which normally leaves people coughing with ‘playa lung.’
Rainfall has overwhelmed the Nevada desert, turning the dust into clay in recent days meaning that around 73,000 revelers are trapped until the landscape dries up.
An isolated death was confirmed by the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday and officials said it occurred ‘during this rain event’ but it is unclear if it is related to the flooding and they gave few other details.
Martha Diaz of California walks along a muddy road at Burning Man carrying bags of platform shoes
An X account has doctored a Forbes news article, claiming that the outbreak was true. X has since added note to say this is a false claim
‘As this death is still under investigation, there is no further information available at this time,’ the sheriff’s office said in a statement on Saturday night.
Campers had their tents and structures breached due to the pouring rain, leaving many people tired, wet, and muddy over the weekend.
Rumours of Ebola have now stirred up hysteria, made especially worse given that the festival is so isolated and disconnected from medical assistance.
Despite the chaos, the hedonistic crowds made the most of the situation by organizing slip-and-slides and other uniquely Burning Man-esque activities.
Thousands of Burning Man attendees trudged in sloppy mud on Saturday – many barefoot or wearing plastic bags on their feet – as flooding from storms swept through the Nevada desert.
About six inches of rain is believed to have fallen on Friday at the festival site, located about 110 miles north of Reno, the National Weather Service in Reno said.
To make matters worse, revelers have been suffering from hypothermia after unprecedented storms washed out the festival.
Organizers urged festivalgoers already on site to ‘conserve food, water and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space.’
WHAT IS EBOLA AND HOW DEADLY IS IT?
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, killed at least 11,000 across the world after it decimated West Africa and spread rapidly over the space of two years.
That pandemic was officially declared over back in January 2016, when Liberia was announced to be Ebola-free by the WHO.
The country, rocked by back-to-back civil wars that ended in 2003, was hit the hardest by the fever, with 40 per cent of the deaths having occurred there.
Sierra Leone reported the highest number of Ebola cases, with nearly of all those infected having been residents of the nation.
WHERE DID IT BEGIN?
An analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the outbreak began in Guinea – which neighbours Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A team of international researchers were able to trace the pandemic back to a two-year-old boy in Meliandou – about 400 miles (650km) from the capital, Conakry.
Emile Ouamouno, known more commonly as Patient Zero, may have contracted the deadly virus by playing with bats in a hollow tree, a study suggested.
Health workers tend to an Ebola patient kept in an isolation tent in the Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2019
Figures show nearly 29,000 people were infected from Ebola – meaning the virus killed around 40 per cent of those it struck.
Cases and deaths were also reported in Nigeria, Mali and the US – but on a much smaller scale, with 15 fatalities between the three nations.
Health officials in Guinea reported a mysterious bug in the south-eastern regions of the country before the WHO confirmed it was Ebola.
Ebola was first identified by scientists in 1976, but the most recent outbreak dwarfed all other ones recorded in history, figures show.
HOW DID HUMANS CONTRACT THE VIRUS?
Scientists believe Ebola is most often passed to humans by fruit bats, but antelope, porcupines, gorillas and chimpanzees could also be to blame.
It can be transmitted between humans through blood, secretions and other bodily fluids of people – and surfaces – that have been infected.
IS THERE A TREATMENT?
The WHO warns that there is ‘no proven treatment’ for Ebola – but dozens of drugs and jabs are being tested in case of a similarly devastating outbreak.
Hope exists though, the US’ FDA approved the Ervebo vaccine for use against the Ebola virus in December 2019.