AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas health officials said Tuesday there are no "suspected or confirmed cases" of Ebola in the state as social media posts have falsely suggested in the wake of immigrants arriving from Africa, including Congo, where an outbreak in has surpassed 2,000 cases.
The false claims, ranging from there is an Ebola "outbreak" in Texas to reports of a few confirmed cases, have been circulating since April. The erroneous claims are also spreading at a time when Border Patrol officials said last week there has been a "dramatic" rise in the number of migrants arriving at the Texas border from African countries, although they remain a small fraction of the total number of migrants apprehended.
"We do not have any suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola right now in Texas," said Lara Anton, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also unaware of any Ebola cases nationwide, spokesman Benjamin Haynes said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is also adding his voice. On Monday, the Republican governor tweeted that the state was working on "health security" He also linked to an April news story that debunked Ebola rumors in the border city of Laredo. He later responded to a pair of tweets surrounding Ebola fears in Texas, referring them to his earlier post.
"In addition to border security, my office is working on Health Security. The Dept. of State Health Services is monitoring immigration sites to protect against infectious disease. In the meantime, Congress must secure the border & prevent a health threat," Abbott tweeted .
Border Patrol officials say more than 500 migrants from Africa have come through the Del Rio sector since May 30, a small fraction of the more than 33,000 total apprehensions that the sector has reported so far this year. Officials say the families from Africa are not just from the Democratic Republic of Congo — where the Ebola outbreak has taken hold — but also the Republic of Congo and Angola.
Last week, San Antonio officials put out a call for French-speaking volunteers to help with the expected arrival of Congolese immigrants.
An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo has killed more than 1,300 people since August and is the second-deadliest in history.
This is part of The Associated Press' ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
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