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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 175-180

Misinformation on salt water use among Nigerians during 2014 Ebola outbreak and the role of social media

1 Department of Community Health, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
2 Department of Medical Microbiology, Universiti Putra, Malaysia

Correspondence Address:
Ahmed Dahiru Balami
Department of Community Health, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1995-7645.257118

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Objective: To determine the spread of misinformation on salt water among Nigerians, salt water use for Ebola prophylaxis, and the role played by the social media during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Methods: Information was collected from the general Nigerian population through online Google forms which were majorly disseminated via Facebook and WhatsApp platforms. The data retrieved was analysed using descriptive statistics, Chi-square test and multivariate logistic regression. Results: A total of 703 questionnaires were included in the final analysis. The respondents’ mean age was (30.2±6.7) years, predominantly male (73.2%). Almost all of them (95.0%) had received some message to use salt water, 37.4% of whom received such message on social media. Around a half of them ever made an attempt to verify the health information they received on social media (50.9%), and about a quarter (24.0%) of them had used salt water during the outbreak. Many of them had used salt water because they believed it would not harm them (52.0%). Salt water was less likely to be used by those who had received such message on social media, as well as by those who had received some contrary information to salt use. Conclusions: Social media could serve as an effective tool in propagating health information and should be actively engaged by health agencies, to spread accurate information.

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