Experts from the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) advise that rumors circulating on social media of an Ebola outbreak at the Burning Man Music Festival in Black Rock City, Nevada are false. NETEC encourages health care agencies to rely upon verified public health information sources, like the CDC Current Outbreak List, for the most up-to-date information on current and future outbreaks and to continue to implement infection prevention and control best practices within their facilities, as usual.

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While severe weather resulted in flooding and road closures in and around the festival over the weekend, no evidence of an outbreak of Ebola or any other high-consequence infectious disease among the attendees has emerged. On September 4, Burning Man organizers posted an official statement on their website indicating that “the online rumors of transmissible illnesses in Black Rock City are unfounded and untrue.”

Further, a public information officer for the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Black Rock Desert site of the festival, said in a statement to indy100 that “I can confirm the event entrance was closed for the year because unusual rainfall caused muddy conditions where there was a full stop on vehicles, and not for an Ebola outbreak. We have heard no information of any participants with Ebola.” 

NETEC encourages health care agencies to combat the spread of misinformation about high-consequence infectious diseases by sharing verified public health information where appropriate and advises clinicians to remain focused on the implementation of identify, isolate, and inform strategies to reduce potential exposures to all transmissible illnesses within their facilities. 

“The spread of misinformation regarding Ebola and similar high-consequence infectious diseases can contribute to a sense of panic that complicates an already difficult situation,” said NETEC Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Aneesh Mehta, MD.