Ebola: ‘Add to Wishlist’?

Giantmicrobes Inc’s sells out Ebola plush toy, lists the WHO as one of its key customers

Reuters October 22, 2014


Ever thought you would find the terms ‘Ebola’ and ‘add to wishlist’ in the same sentence? We didn’t either. Toy company Giantmicrobes Inc, which makes a line of plush toys based on viruses and other microscopic organism’s dolls, has sold out its entire Ebola stock, which looks like half a pretzel.

The collection of plush toys includes the small Ebola doll for $9.95, a Gigantic Ebola doll for $29.95, and an Ebola Petri Dish toy for $14.95, according to the company’s website. “You do not want to get Ebola,” the website warns. “A short incubation period of two to 21 days presages symptoms that include fever, aches, sore throat and weakness, followed by diarrhoea, stomach pain, vomiting, and both internal and external bleeding. And then, for between 50 and 90 per cent of victims, death.”

“Since its discovery in 1976, Ebola has become the T Rex of microbes,” said the Stamford, Connecticut-based maker of the “uniquely contagious toy” on its website, which promotes them as gag gifts that also have educational value. Giantmicrobes, makers of plush toys of Anthrax, Botulism, Cholera and Dengue Fever, lists the World Health Organisation as one of its largest customers, along with pharmaceutical companies and the American Red Cross.

It was not clear how many of the toys have been sold and the company could not be reached for comment. However, anyone disappointed by the current shortage of the Ebola toys could click on ‘Add to Wishlist’ and wait for more stock to arrive.

Ebola not only stands popular amongst the stuffed-toy buyers, but is also becoming a popular Halloween theme for the holiday’s celebrators in the United States. Some of the more ghoulish trick-or-treaters will be dressed as emergency responders to people sick with Ebola, head to toe in protective clothing, according to costume previews in social media.

Citizens took to Twitter to describe their terrifying choice for the upcoming festival. “If you wanna scare the hell out of people this #Halloween, just dress up as #Ebola,” read a tweet. Photos on Twitter have shown costumes based on Ebola workers, clad in goggles, rubber gloves and full-body protective suits captioned, “I’m going to be #Ebola for #Halloween this year because that’s what’s hip now,” as a tweet said.

Costumes are meant to lampoon, “but the world is getting more serious. This is scary stuff,” said Tony Bianchi, manager of New York Costumes in Manhattan. In past years, the store has sold such ripped-from-the-headlines costumes as White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Princess Diana after her fatal car crash, and the Chilean miners trapped underground in 2010. Bianchi clarified that the costumes related to Ebola will be homemade and that no manufacturer had planned to produce them because, “there are certain things... you just don’t go there,” as he stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2014.

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