Health workers prepare to carry an abandoned dead body with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia, Liberia.
Health workers prepare to carry an abandoned dead body with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia, Liberia.Reuters file

After the "Ebola zombies", the latest hoax to cost lives in West Africa is the widely circulated messages which claimed drinking salt water is a cure for Ebola.

With confusion and terror over Ebola gaining notoriety in the West African countries, several lies are being propagated to spread fear among people

Two people have died in Nigeria so far, while around 20 have been hospitalised; all because of a social media prank, urging the people to drink excessive amounts of salt water to avoid catching the Ebola virus, according to ABC News.

"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," the report quoted the hoax.

Apparently, the message also urged people to drink as much salt water as possible as protection against the virus.

Video: Dead Ebola Patients Walking 

Reports claim that the hoax first started out as a text message sent by a Nigerian student back in August. However, the bogus Ebola cure soon went viral.

A woman in Sierra Leone explained to National Public Radio how even the educated people were taken in by the hoax.

"There was this buzz. Everybody was talking. Mothers were calling their grown children up at 1, 2, 3 o'clock in the morning to pray over salt water and then bathe in it. Some were told to drink a little. People were being woken out of a deep sleep to perform this ritual literally in the middle of the night.

"We were told there were instances of town criers going up and down the streets instructing people to bathe with hot salt water... And it was babies being bathed with it, elderly people, everybody. It was not a case of educated and not educated. It was everyone."

Video: Ebola Virus - What is it?

Debunking the hoax, a Discovery News report noted that even drinking too much fresh water can be fatal for those infected with Ebola. Salt water is unhealthy, especially for those who suffer from high blood pressure.

Ever since the outbreak of the virus, there has been several such fake news and rumours doing the rounds in West African countries.

A local newspaper in Liberia had recently raked up panic with reports on "Ebola zombies", claiming that two women who died from the virus came back to life.

The unsubstantiated report was later found to be hoax. However, that has not stopped Twitter users from speculating on the Ebola Zombie Apocalypse.

According to the WHO, Ebola has claimed 3,300 lives in West Africa since March 2014.