Mass hysteria over Ebola has spread faster than the virus itself here in the United States.
Although Ebola is a serious issue in Africa and surrounding countries where the virus has destroyed communities, the United States has continued to stay relatively unaffected.
There has been only one American death since its outbreak, while six others who were diagnosed and treated now lead seemingly normal lives. Just this past week, a nurse that was infected abroad walked out of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., asking the community to focus on those and the countries truly burdened by Ebola instead of those who have access to help.
With no vaccination and the spread of the virus through healthcare personnel, people have become overly worried. Ebola is a virus that is only spread through the contact of bodily fluids of an infected person. The symptoms begin as something similar to a cold or flu; with fatigue, a sore throat and muscle pain. But once Ebola has infected your body, you bleed internally and externally until eventually your system shuts down from blood loss.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is the deadliest of past epidemics, but is low in the number of deaths it has produced when compared with the AIDS epidemic, Influenza or Smallpox.
AIDS is a disease that has taken over 36 million lives since its outbreak and that’s a topic that shouldn’t be ignored. Millions of people across the globe struggle with HIV/AIDS every day and people have become so acquainted to the fact that this disease exists, that some still don’t take the precaution to wear a condom showing just how ignorant we are when it comes to our health. If we’re going to talk about Ebola so much, let’s start highlighting the deaths from AIDS as well and how easy it is to contract that disease when there are hundreds of people living with it that don’t show noticeable symptoms.
We’re gullible, and for centuries the media has continued to exaggerate events to make them more relatable and newsworthy to the average citizen. As a journalist, I understand how the public can misunderstand words and information you try to deliver in an educational manner.
But it also isn’t my responsibility to make sure the public is intelligent enough to use rational deductive reasoning skills to understand how hard it is to contract Ebola from a person you’ve never met or seen. It’s also the misuse of invalid information that freaks Americans out as well.
When the media says someone was tested for Ebola, that does not mean they have it. I think people really need to think twice before talking about something they know nothing about or clicking to share a link that has no factual evidence.
But it’s our job as members of the public to look at our resources and the recent cases of the Ebola virus and not react irrationally. Instead, take this media coverage and knowledge to educate yourself on the virus’ risks, how deadly it is and how it spreads.
Don’t use the media coverage to freak ourselves out or take it as a sign to shame people who travel abroad. There have been many incidents in states across the country where kids aren’t let back to school because they traveled abroad for a wedding or in New York where an African restaurant’s sales have plummeted because the average person can’t unlink Africa and the virus.
The way we have reacted as a nation is extreme. I know we should take precautions and protect our people with testing and certain quarantine situations but putting a nurse on house arrest after she already tested negative for the virus might be pushing the limits.
I believe we need to continue to live our lives and keep up to date with news, but also look to those not as fortunate as us and look into ways to help those truly affected by this virus.
With all the coverage and media we have sent over to Africa in the past month we can find a way to help those spending their last days here on Earth with medical supplies, well wishes and by keeping ourselves calm.