Myth or Fact?
Can salt and hot water cure Ebola Virus infection?
Text messages have been circulated a few days ago (specifically in the West African area) that hot water and salt can prevent infection with and even cure EVD.
The idea of using a pinch of salt mixed to 15 liters of water for bathing reportedly came from the ruler of one Nigerian kingdom – Igala. Idakwo Michael Ameh Oboni, the Attah or ruler of the Igala State in North-central Nigeria, popularized the said prescription that many embraced.
In just one night, many from the Western African region, where the outbreak is centered, posted and shared around the message that contains the following text: “Please ensure that you and your family and all your neighbours bath with hot water and salt before daybreak today because of Ebola virus which is spreading through the air.” And indeed some people had done so before daybreak.
The practice was further reinforced when a Catholic priest asked his followers to use the same ingredients for a ritual.
Officials worried of the impact of such unverified claim as experts repeatedly say that there remains to be no cure for Ebola Virus Disease to date. And there is no vaccine either although one is soon to be on testing stage. Current measures are only centered on the control of the spread of the virus and support measures to the infected.
The Zaire species of Ebola virus currently in outbreak is said to be the deadliest of the 5 strains, killing up to 9 of 10 infected of it. As whole, since its emergence in 1976, Ebola virus has killed 1,717 out of the 2,586 human infections.
What’s the truth?
Salt in water has a long-standing history of claimed benefits to the body. The ocean, the widest salt and water solution has and is still known to cleanse and help cure many illnesses. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine for example believed in the healing properties of saltwater by observing fishermen’s wounds. Science also proves that there are microorganisms that die in salt water, especially at a high temperatures.
However, Ebola virus may be different. It is not yet a fully studied virus. There is no conclusion on the issue of its ability to resist raw elements as sunlight. But experts say that because Ebola virus is quite hardy, it can live outside the human body from 4 to 11 days (again still inconclusive).
With this limited universal knowledge on the virus, practices such as bathing in salt water affording one immunity from infection as what the text message says has no solid evidence to back it up.
The bottom line? Salt water bath used moderately is not harmful to the body but neither can it provide protection and cure against Ebola virus infection.
Blame no one for anything that comes out of that beeping phone for it is each person’s obligation to verify information acquired especially if it’s meant to be passed on. The fact that a cure for Ebola virus has gone viral in a matter of hour’s only shows that people actually care about one another that much to share what they know. However, the danger lies in the reliability of information.
Desperation can make people fall for anything easily. With Ebola virus killing hundreds of people in a few days for months now, this could be the case. It is thus a matter of courage and good discernment to be able to take pains to hold back and take necessary steps before embracing something one has always hoped for. Because sometimes, what seems too good to be true, may in fact be.
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