Deadly Fever

Racism, Disease and a Media Panic

By Charles T. Adeyanju  

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In February 2001, a woman from the Congo was admitted to a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, with a serious illness of unknown origin. Very quickly, the rumour spread that she was carrying the deadly Ebola virus. Even though it was equally quickly determined that she did not carry the virus, the rumour spread like wildfire throughout the Canadian media. Through a content analysis of four major Canadian newspapers and interviews with journalists, medical practitioners and members of the Black community, Charles T. Adeyanju shows that it was the potent mixture of race, gender and immigration, not a real health problem, that lay at the heart of this public panic.

“My students and I are enjoying Deadly Fever. It’s a great text for 3rd year students in my Sociology of the Mass Media course. It would also be useful in other courses that take up any of several timely themes: news media politics (particularly, the covert racism in neo-liberal discourse), racialization and/or immigration panic in the context of the changing demographics in Canada, anxiety over Canadian “national identity” in the context of globalized risk, and so on. A key strength of the book is its analysis of the intersection of gender, race and nation, in examining how the media produces the black female body as a particular threat to the nation.”

— Angela Failler, Sociology, University of Winnipeg

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  • The Non-Ebola Panic and Racism
  • Media and Society
  • The Media Discourse of Race, Immigration and Health Risks
  • “The Unrespectable View of Society”: Competing Claims
  • Community Reaction
  • Social Inclusion and Racism


  • Charles T. Adeyanju

    University of Prince Edward Island

    Charles T. Adeyanju is an Assistant Professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Prince Edward Island. He holds a PhD from McMaster University, and throughout his career has researched a range of social issues that include: transnational migration, race and ethnicity, social inequality, and media and society. He is currently researching how Nigerian immigrants in Canada may influence their peers and social groups in Nigeria to migrate.

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