Jaguars Mascot Under Fire For Ebola Sign

Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville is getting scrutinized Monday morning after he was seen holding a sign that some would call offensive.

According to Jacksonville PR, the man who has worn the costume for 18 years, Curtis Dvorak, was in the costume Sunday afternoon and was holding a hand written sign that read “TOWELS CARRY EBOLA” while holding the Steelers’ beloved Terrible Towl in his other hand. The picture went viral on social media Sunday. The Jaguars declined to comment on the incident Sunday, only identifying the person in the costume.

Ebola is a virus that spreads through direct contact. Several people from the United States are being infected with Ebola after spending some time in the countries such as Nigeria who have a serious problem with the virus.

Many people are mistaken in that it can spread through the air. That is false. You have to come in direct contact with someone who has Ebola to be infected. So, in some sense, the towel sign makes sense. But it could be considered offensive.

Viruses do not change their mode of transmission, so those that require direct contact to spread do not suddenly become airborne or learn to exist in a mosquito.

The reason Ebola spreads is lack of attention to basic infection control and, in Africa, lack of supplies and a public health infrastructure. Liberia, with the most cases of Ebola spends $88 per person on health care a year (less than many spend a year on coffee), and it shows in their slow response to Ebola. The U.S. spends $8,200 a year per person.

Just look at this infograph from the CDC. It tells you everything you need to know about how Ebola is contracted.

In the United States there is currently only one confirmed case of Ebola, which is in Dallas. As of Friday, another patient in Washington DC is being monitored for Ebola symptoms. But those are the only two cases in the country. Really only one confirmed.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping released a statement Monday morning explaining that the Jaguars had no idea about the sign until after the fact. He apologized to everyone affected and made it clear the Jaguars are taking this seriously.

“Improvisation and humor have both been key elements to the character of Jaxson DeVille, especially when he performs at home games,” said Lamping Monday in a statement. “On Sunday, the person who has played Jaxson DeVille over the past 20 seasons made an extremely poor decision in that regard. The team was unaware of this inappropriate sign, which was hand-made by Jaxson during the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game, until after it had been displayed. We are handling the matter internally and taking it very seriously. We extend our sincerest apologies to anyone who was offended.”

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