Ebola Hysteria

I am saddened, but not surprised by all of the “Ebola Hysteria” that we’re seeing in the United States over the past few weeks.

People.  Learn the facts.  For example, this is a great article by the Washington Post that explains how Ebola spreads.

Ebola in humans is spread only through direct contact with virus-laden bodily fluids, and is not as transmissible as such airborne viruses as influenza and measles.

But what if it does become airborne?  Well, sure, that’s possible.

Most scientists have said it is extraordinarily unlikely that Ebola will change its mode of transmission. Scientists are wary of absolutes as a rule, but in the annals of medical science, such a major change in transmission has never been observed in a pathogen that already affects human beings.

 

“If a virus were to acquire the ability to go airborne, it would change the landscape dramatically,” Jahrling said. But he said the likelihood of that is “remote squared.”

 

Moreover, the Ebola virus does not have an affinity for the cells deep in the lungs.

And yet, we’re panicking.  In a Facebook group, a number of people talked about cancelling their upcoming Disney vacations because they didn’t want to be exposed.  In Ohio, a school was closed because a teacher flew on the same plane as the nurse who ultimately got Ebola.  Not on the same flight, on the same plane.

I’m all for being cautious, but we’re getting a little extreme here.

It’s especially irritating when people who refuse to get flu shots are panicking about Ebola.  You’re more likely to catch the flu.  You’re more likely to die from the flu.  Get your flu shot.

We’ve hit the 21 day mark for exposure by the poor man who died in Texas.  The people who lived with him did not get sick.  This is a good sign.  Yes, two nurses got sick.  These were women who were around him while the virus was at its worst.  He was likely projectile vomiting and unable to control his bowels.  An awful way to die, but at least he had the comfort of kind nurses caring for him.  Unfortunately, they were not properly protected against the virus, which is why they are currently at hospitals where they can take proper precautions.

Should we ignore Ebola in the US?  No.  Hospitals should be prepared.  The CDC should be prepared.  You and I?  We should just continue to live our lives.  Wash your hands.  Take care of yourself.  But don’t stop living your life out of fear of a virus you’re unlikely to catch.  If you want to fly wearing a face mask, that’s fine.  It’s not going to change your likelihood of catching Ebola, but you’re probably better protected from a cold or the flu.

To me, the worst part is that the people who are the most worried are the people who couldn’t have cared less as this virus ravaged Liberia and other parts of East Africa.  It wasn’t affecting them, so why bother to even pay attention?  Sure, on some level, what can we do?  I can donate to Doctors Without Borders or one of the many other organizations with boots on the ground in the affected areas.  If nothing else, I can be educated about what is going on in that region.

In general, we need to stop the spread of hysteria.  The news media is as much to blame as anyone.  Learn the facts.

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