Ghost Ship Full of Ebola Rats Headed Toward U.S. – Fiction!

Ghost Ship Full of Ebola Rats Headed Toward U.S. – Fiction!

Summary of eRumor: 

An abandoned “ghost ship” full of Ebola-infected rats will make landfall in Florida.

The Truth:

A fake news website started the false eRumor that an Ebola-stricken ghost ship was headed for the Florida coast.

The article first appeared on the website World News Daily Report, and, within days, was shared on Facebook thousands of times. According to the report:

A large cargo ship originating from West Africa has the American authorities on high alert as it is approaching the coast of Florida. All 17 crewmembers of the Guinean Luck are reported to have died from the Ebola hemorrhagic fever and the presence of thousands of rats possibly infected with the disease aboard the ship could represent a major threat for the American population.

World News Daily Report regularly publishes satirical stories in a way that makes them appear real. The website’s disclaimer, however, says that it, “Assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”

Fake news websites like the World News Daily Report dupe readers into believing false reports are true by including bits and pieces of factual news stories in them. In this eRumor, for example, the website uses an actual story from 2014 about a ghost ship full of “cannibal rats” that was drifting freely at sea.

It should be noted that the rats were not infected with Ebola, and the ship did not set sail from West Africa, as the eRumor claimed.

The U.K-based newspaper The Independent reports:

A ghost ship carrying nothing but disease-ridden rats could be about to make land on Britain’s shore, experts have warned.

The Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has been drifting across the north Atlantic for the better part of a year, and salvage hunters say there is a strong chance it is heading this way.

Built in Yugoslavia in 1976, the unlucky vessel was abandoned in a Canadian harbour after its owners were embroiled in a debt scandal and failed to pay the crew.

The authorities in Newfoundland tried to sell the hull for scrap — valued at £600,000 ($907,000) — to the Dominican Republic, but cut their losses when it came loose in a storm on the way.

British authorities worried that the rat-filled ship would reach landfall in the U.K., but the ship sank on its own in the North Atlantic in January of 2014.

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