The same month a Dallas man became the first person to die from Ebola in United States and fears of the disease continued to grow, Ebola-themed Halloween costumes and haunted houses began popping up around the country.
Over 10,000 people had contracted the disease and 4,922 people had died, mostly in West African countries, as of Saturday, the World Health Organization reported.
Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. and died at a Dallas, Texas, hospital on Oct. 8. Two of the nurses who treated him also became infected – one being declared free of the disease Friday.
On Thursday, a man in New York became the fourth person diagnosed with the disease in the U.S.
After at least two states imposed a mandatory 21-day quarantine on health care workers returning to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients and the White House announced travelers from affected countries would be funneled through five U.S. airports, some people have decided to incorporate the recent scares in their Halloween fun.
“It was scary, and that’s why this thing came to mind so quickly. Ebola is scary and it scared me. It scared everybody,” James Faulk told KGNS after decorating his Texas home like an Ebola hazmat scene. “We’re making light of it, but in the end hopefully everybody is going to get a laugh out of it and have a good day.”
While some neighbors said humor was a useful way of coping with a bad situation and others said the decor reflected Faulk’s humor, he said his landlord threatened to take the setup down.
Some Twitter users also said the idea was in “poor taste” and “amazingly tone deaf,” KGNS stated.
Despite the controversy, Faulk said he would not take down his design.
“You know I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, and that’s what it’s all about,” Faulk said. “Having fun. Don’t mean to offend anybody.”
And a California company, Brands on Sale, has sold hundreds of Halloween costumes meant to resemble Ebola containment suits.
“It’s no different to us than a fireman or a police or an EMT worker. The costume is very current, it’s very trendy. People want that shock and awe Halloween costume and this is definitely it,” CEO Johnathon Weeks told Reuters Tuesday.
A sick sense of humor was needed to appreciate the costume, but the shock value was part of what Halloween is about, he said.
“We could have went about it a lot of different ways. We could have very well done an Ebola victim costume, we could have done blood or vomit or other vile things on this costume. We kind of just did the costume of what media is showing. What we find is that Halloween trends follow the trends of today, in the media and current events, so this costume is no different,” Weeks said.