Idris Elba, Soccer Stars Join the Fight Against Ebola

As Ebola outbreak rages on in West Africa, celebrities back a public awareness campaign meant to slow the spread of the virus

In an effort to stem the Ebola tide, several celebrities launched an Ebola awareness campaign Wednesday in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — the three countries most affected by what is now the most deadly Ebola outbreak ever.

British actor Idris Elba (of “The Wire,” “Thor” and “Prometheus” fame) and several international soccer stars launched the public awareness campaign, which will broadcast information about Ebola through TV, radio, billboards and text messages, reported Reuters.

This campaign launched the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the death toll in the Ebola outbreak had breached 6,000.

For Elba, whose parents hail from West Africa, the Ebola outbreak hits home.

“To see those amazing countries in West Africa where my father grew up and my parents married being ravaged by this disease is painful and horrific,” he said, according to Reuters.

The disease he’s referring to is Ebola virus disease, which is caused by the Ebola virus. It’s already sickened more than 17,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, WHO reports. The virus is spreading most rapidly in Sierra Leone.

The disease is marked by a high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. It’s only contagious through blood or other infected bodily fluids. And a patient has to be showing symptoms to be contagious to others.

In addition to spreading information about how to avoid the virus, this awareness campaign is honoring the service of the many health workers who volunteered to fight Ebola.

In one TV ad for the campaign, several African soccer stars — such as Yaya Touré, Carlton Cole and Patrick Vieira — are shown wearing jerseys featuring the names of health workers, Reuters reports.

“I could not sit back without doing something to help fight Ebola,” Touré, originally from Ivory Coast, told Reuters. “(The campaign) pays tribute to the many, many African heroes who are in the villages, towns and cities using their skills, resourcefulness and intelligence to battle Ebola.”