Institutional trust and misinformation: the impact on Ebola control efforts

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A population-based survey has assessed the role of public trust and misinformation on individual preventative behaviours during the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, discovering that a quarter of individuals did not believe the virus was real and refused vaccination.

The study, published recently in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, surveyed 961 adults between the 1 and 16 of September 2018, a month after the country declared its tenth Ebola outbreak. The research was conducted in the cities of Benu and Butembo, at the epicentre of the outbreak.

Of the adults interviewed, only 349 thought local authorities could be trusted to represent their interests, 230 believed rumours that the Ebola virus does not exist, and an even higher proportion believed the outbreak was fabricated for financial gains (312 individuals) or to destabilize the region (371 individuals).

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