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Making False Claims of Ebola Is a Felony

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Amidst the growing concern surrounding the deadly Ebola virus, there are some who seem to find it amusing to trick the authorities and others into believing that they are infected with the virus. However, it is hardly amusing to play on people’s fears about Ebola by making false statements. If you make such false statements, you will be charged with a felony.

ebola hazmat suitOne such instance was the case of a man who was arrested on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in Georgia and upon his arrival at Cobb County Jail, told the paramedic that he recently arrived from Liberia (one of the countries that are most infected with Ebola) and was experiencing symptoms of the virus. He also said he was in Nigeria, Brussels, and Virginia during his recent trip.

As a result of these statements, the man was isolated, the jail was put on lockdown, and the jail refused new inmates. But after testing the man for Ebola, it was discovered that he did not have the virus, and he had not made any trips outside the U.S. since 2005. The man now faces three counts of felony charges.

Another similar incident occurred on a U.S. Airways flight to the Dominican Republic from Philadelphia. A passenger sneezed and made a joke, stating that he had recently travelled to Africa, thereby implying to his fellow passengers that he might have Ebola. As a result of his statements, a hazmat team dressed in blue protective suits with hoods and clear plastic face masks, boarded the plane and removed him. Upon testing the man, it was discovered that he did not have a temperature, and did not have Ebola.

Still another example of false claims of Ebola occurred in a courtroom in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where an arrestee communicated to police that he had Ebola. Shortly afterwards, Fire Rescue hazmat responders donned with protective suits took the man to be tested for the virus at a medical center, where it was determined that he did not have Ebola. Had he actually been infected with Ebola, a minimum of 250 people, including 150 inmates and 100 corrections officers, could have been exposed to the virus.

In light of these and other similar hoaxes, clearly intended to scare people and to create a disturbance, it should be well publicized that anyone making these kinds of false statements will be charged with a felony, and suffer the consequences.

This is a very serious matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Making false statements about having a deadly, contagious disease is likely to cause panic, fear, and hysteria in everyone around. In the event that someone near you claims to have the symptoms of Ebola, here are the symptoms: fever greater than 101.5°F, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, and bleeding or bruising without any known cause.

Roxanne Minott

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