Marco Werman: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm dancing in the studio to a song called "Ebola's in Town." It's pretty popular at the moment in Liberia and Guinea, two West African countries that are experiencing an Ebola outbreak. The World's Carol Hills joins me and you often sift through the news looking for cartoons and other pieces of satire. This is hardly satirical, a song called "Ebola's in Town," - what's it about?
Carol Hills: It seems to be a response by musicians - these three guys from Liberia: D12, Shadow and Kuzzy of 2 Kings, which is all I can tell you about them. But they've come up with this catchy dance tune and the lyrics are very much like "don't touch a friend," "don't eat the food," and "don't kiss." They're public health messages but they're a bit extreme. In fact, ebola virus is spread through bodily fluids, so it's sort of a throwback to the early warnings of HIV, it's a huge stigma; there's a huge stigma around ebola that if you touch somebody you'll get ebola, which isn't true. So, it's a mixed message but it is catchy and people are dancing, so it's kind of interesting.
Werman: Does it work as a public health campaign? I don't even know if it's part of a campaign.
Hills: I have no idea but what's interesting is that it happened spontaneously. There's no evidence that it was part of some official campaign by some group or the government. It's out there, young people are dancing and these countries are facing this awful outbreak which started in Guinea, it spread to Liberia and now it's in Sierra Leone. We're talking about maybe 250 cases, a number of people have died.
Werman: Remind us just how lethal ebola is.
Hills: It's 90% lethal. It's unbelievable. It's this kind of gruesome thing - you get a fever, you eventually can bleed out both internally and externally. They think one recent case occurred because a woman was preparing another woman's body for burial and didn't wash her hands. What's interesting is that the health workers who have arrived both within those countries and from without, they have to wear these giant outfits, they look like astronauts and that's also scaring the people. But they're really struggling and they've realized that it's also a different ebola virus than another outbreak that had occurred in southern Africa, so it's a whole different one.
Werman: So, it's really hard to say what these mixed messages in this song "Ebola's in Town," are actually sending to people who are listening to it, who are dancing to it. I have to say, it's kind of weird dancing to a song called "Ebola's in Town," about a disease that you can basically bleed out from. It's uncomfortable.
Hills: It's uncomfortable and I find it uncomfortable but at the same time I say "hats off." Maybe the message isn't spot on but it gets people talking. They're listening to a song, it leads to conversations. I kind of think when you're dealing with these countries where you're struggling to get a public health message out there, you have to use all sorts of ways to do it. I say go for it.
Werman: The World's Carol Hills. Feel like dancing a little bit more of "Ebola's in Town"?
Werman: Alright. Thanks a lot.
Hills: Thanks Marco.
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