Communication and social mobilisation strategies to raise awareness about Ebola virus disease and the risk factors for its transmission are central elements in the response to the current Ebola outbreak in west Africa. A principle underpinning these efforts is to change risky “behaviour” related to “traditional” practices and “misinformation”.

Populations at risk of contracting Ebola virus disease have been exhorted to “put aside, tradition, culture and whatever family rites they have and do the right thing”. Messages designed to correct perceived misunderstandings3 include: “Ebola is caused by a virus. Ebola is not caused by a curse or by withcraft”; “science and medicine are our only hope”; and “traditions kill”.