LEAGUE CITY — Health district officials say there are no reported cases of Ebola in Galveston County, but a friendly prank between neighbors had some residents thinking otherwise.
The prank led to one couple’s house being clad in Ebola-themed décor that made it look eerily similar to a crime scene — and reminded some people of the images on newscasts in Dallas where a case of the virus was reported last week.
Yellow caution tape lined the perimeter of the property and across the front of the house in the 6700 block of River Ridge Lane. Small white posters with large black letters reading “EBOLA” and biohazard signs were taped to the garage door and mailbox.
It wasn’t the only house that was decorated — but it was the only one on the street with an Ebola theme to its decorations. A neighboring house had large teeth lining the archway to the front door, and several others had pumpkins and other Halloween decorations.
A Santa Fe man wrote to The Daily News on Monday night asking whether there was a case of Ebola that residents were unaware of after his wife, Jenny Murphy, drove past the house earlier that day. But the homeowners and area health officials said that’s not the case.
“It looked so legit,” Murphy said. “I really thought it was real.”
Jessica Villarreal, the homeowner, said the decorations weren’t something she and her husband did on their own. It was all part of a prank done by their football-loving friends in response to Sunday’s rivalry football game between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys.
Jessica and her husband Pete, avid Cowboys fans, had been in Dallas for Sunday’s game. When they came home, their entire lawn was covered in caution tape and biohazard labels because of the case of Ebola in Dallas before the big matchup.
The couple and their family held a yellow sign at the game that said, “Houston Has the No’Bowl A Virus!” Villarreal said.
The police were even called because some were concerned. Villarreal said the League City officers who visited her house on Wednesday caught on it was a joke and even snapped a selfie with the decorations, she said.
Kurt Koopmann, a spokesman for the Galveston County Health District, said officials have not received any notifications that Ebola had made its way to the area.
“Just like the rest of the state, we’re keeping up with this and working together to stay informed,” Koopmann said. “If we were informed of a case here, we would have the proper notifications in place.”
Koopmann said the health district is having regular calls with state health officials.
League City spokeswoman Kristi Wyatt said the city had not received any complaints or inquiries about the yard décor.
“If there was something, we would have heard about it,” Wyatt said.
By the end of the day Tuesday, all of the decorations had been taken down.
“We have to wait four years to prank our Texans friends back,” Villarreal said.