Ebola Stuffed Toys & Needlepoints, A.K.A. The Worst Idea Ever, Are Up For Grabs — PHOTOS
So, as you've definitely heard, there's a horrifying outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus occurring across a number of countries in West Africa — Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria have all seen people sickened. It's a disastrous public health crisis, which the World Health Organization has characterized as "out of control." That's not what this story is about, though. This is about Ebola-themed stuffed toys, and other assorted merchandise. What? Yeah, that's right.
While the intent behind many such crafts seems to be an educational one, and kind of admirably nerdy at that, it's nonetheless a startling sight. Want a stuffed representation of the hyper-lethal Ebola microbe for your little one? How about a hand-stitched Ebola emblem, or a nifty pendant? Well, you're in luck, because apparently there's actually enough demand for such a thing to exist! It's a troubling concept when you consider that progress on an Ebola vaccine has been hampered by — you guessed it — the limited market for such drugs.
All that said, you really have to hand it to the craftsmanship on some of these things. However macabre the subject matter, the creative spirit lives on — I'm partial to the pendant pictured above, personally, but to each their own.
For what it's worth, these products clean up the microbe's peculiar look somewhat — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s image is a little more, well, terrifying looking.
According to Nicole Centonze of science-y toy company GIANTmicrobes, who spoke to NBC News, demand for Ebola merch has risen at the same time the outbreak has wreaked its toll.
We've definitely been seeing more interest. I've been getting phone calls and special orders. The news makes a difference.
That's not exactly the happiest way to boost sales. But Centonze doesn't view the production of these items as exploitive of the crisis, and that's fair — according to NBC News, GIANTmicrobes have been selling their plushies (about ten bucks for a small, and about $30 for a large) since 2005, meaning they didn't ramp up marketing efforts directly on the back of the outbreak. To what extent the infamy and lethality of the disease feeds the demand for such items sales is unclear, but at the very least, it's an introduction to some hardcore scientific geekery for kids.
The description of the virus that sits atop GIANTmicrobes' Ebola page, however, is equal parts vague and understated — not so much for really educating about anything, much less what the little guy pictured above actually does to a human body.
Since its discovery in 1976, Ebola has become the T. Rex of microbes. Share the love!
Share the love, indeed. And do so while using this stylish, Ebola-themed petri dish!