Ebola Zombies Hoax and Conspiracies: FEMA ‘Disposable’ Coffins, Found in ‘Hair Extension’ Packages, a Salt Water Cure Go Viral

October 13, 2014 Updated: June 28, 2015

In recent weeks, there’s been a spate of bogus rumors about the Ebola outbreak, including zombies and the virus being found in hair extensions in the US.


FEMA Coffins?

One conspiracy theory that’s been floating around social media sites over the weekend and Monday claims FEMA has opened up camps with “disposable coffins” for Ebola patients.

The rumor about disposable coffins has been around for several years, as Snopes.com notes.

“This rumor resurfaced in October 2014 during the midst of public concern over an outbreak of Ebola, with claims that the coffins (or coffin liners) were being stockpiled in anticipation of a large number of fatalities from that disease in the U.S. However, the story and pictures are several years old, the objects shown have nothing to do with Ebola or FEMA or any other agency of the U.S. government, and the pictured items were around long before Barack Obama was first elected to the presidency of the U.S. in 2008,” it says.

Hair Extensions?

A bogus Facebook post that says Ebola has been found in packages of hair extensions is fake.

Reads one heavily shared Facebook post: “So according to CNN Ebola is allegedly being found in ‘hair extensions’ …yup. I’ve officially heard it all smh. Ebola has been found in numerous packages of hair extensions in the U.S. … You’d think that if President Obama could find the time to record video messages on Ebola safety for the people of West Africa, he could find a chance to warn American citizens about the latest state-side Ebola threat: the presence of the Ebola virus in packages of hair extensions.”

The post also features a photo of Anderson Cooper and an African-American woman with the CNN logo.

However, the whole thing is fake.

Per hoax-debunking site Snopes.com, “It was all a prank, however: Neither CNN nor any other news outlet reported on an instance of Ebola turning up in packages of hair extensions. The accompanying image was an altered screenshot of a CNN report from several days earlier on a related, but distinctly different, subject: anchorman Anderson Cooper’s interview with a subject in Monrovia, Liberia, discussing whether Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, was aware that he had been exposed to the Ebola virus before boarding the airplane that brought him to the U.S. from Liberia.”


Ebola has been the subject of a number of bogus reports and hoaxes in recent days.

A few weeks ago, several articles posted on satire websites claimed that people have risen from the dead after being infected with the virus.

There’s been no credible reports of people coming back from the dead who were sickened with Ebola.

“The claims are fanciful and superstitious nonsense. There have not been any confirmed cases of Ebola victims rising from the dead. The image featured in the reports is a photoshopped screenshot from the zombie movie World War Z,” reads a post from Hoax-Slayer.

Salt-Water Prevention Leads to Deaths

Another, more insidious hoax has actually led to several deaths.

Fake rumors have circulated on social media sites in West Africa, which say that drinking or bathing in salt water can prevent infection from Ebola.

The hoax apparently began as a text message from a Nigerian student before spreading rapidly in the region.

At least two people have died after drinking salt water.

“The two who died are thought to have had high blood pressure and were therefore especially susceptible to high salt consumption,” says Hoax-Slayer. “A number of other people were hospitalized. Of course, drinking or bathing in salt water will do nothing whatsoever to prevent infection from the Ebola virus. Nor does Ebola spread through the air.”

US Gov’t Behind It?

In the three West African countries most heavily affected by the outbreak, there’s been rumors spread that the US government or the CDC is behind the Ebola outbreak.

These most likely false reports have sparked distrust among locals in the region.

Later, a US professor suggested in an editorial in Liberian newspaper, the Daily Observer, that the US Department of Defense is caused Ebola to spread in the area.

“The Liberian-born professor is Cyril Broderick. He is an associate professor in the Agriculture and Natural Resources department at Delaware State University, a historically black public school in Dover. Previously, he was a member of the faculty of the University of Liberia,” reads a report from conservative-leaning website The Daily Caller.