Misplaced hysteria strikes again with Ebola


Cynthia Goldsmith

A microscopic view of the Ebola virus.

Casey Metcalf, Staff Writer

It is difficult to find a news channel that is not covering the recent outbreak of Ebola in America and the not so recent outbreak around the world. You turn on anything from Fox News to your local channel and you are bombarded with news anchors with shaky voices and terror filled eyes telling you to hide your kids, hide your wife – wait, that is a different kind of viral.

No, this kind of viral is not as fun. It is not fun at all, actually. Ebola is essentially hyper fast HIV, starting with a fever, nausea, flu-like symptoms – then only a few days later venturing into brain damage and problems breathing, along with internal bleeding and eventually death.

But do not fret! Here is some good news: The mortality rate of ebola was previously 90%, however with the large numbers of medical professionals trying to combat the issue, the mortality rate has now reached 55%. Also, some of the most contagious infections (like the flu or the common cold) are so common because they are highly contagious and airborne. Ebola is not airborne. You cannot get it just by sitting next to someone who has it, you cannot get it from them breathing on you, etc.

Now, you might say, “Hey Casey! There are tons of infectious diseases out there that are not airborne but have become epidemics!” to which I would reply: there are still major differences between Ebola and the other epidemics that make Ebola much less of a threat.

Here is the lowdown on Ebola, you cannot contract it from anyone who is not currently showing symptoms. So if you are sitting next to someone and they look normal, don’t be worried about it. Now, on the other hand, if your lab partner is lookin’ a little pale with some bruises on their arms and suddenly they have a nose-bleed onto your worksheet, then it might be time to send them home and wash your hands for a few hours. The fact that you know who has it when it matters (when it is actually contagious) makes it one of the easiest sicknesses to avoid.

You look at an epidemic like HIV/AIDS, and it is impossible to know who has it without testing. AIDS is spread with bodily fluids (blood, sexual intercourse) just like Ebola is, but the main thing is that AIDS is contagious even when they are not showing late stage symptoms of the disease. This is why AIDS became such a pandemic, people were having unprotected sex and sharing needles without being able to tell who had it and who did not.

So in a nutshell: You do not need to worry about getting Ebola. What you should be worrying about is Ebola in other countries that do not have the means to avoid it like the US does. Countries that do not have running water or modern medicine. Stop clicking on those fake Facebook stories about Ebola victims rising from the dead. Stop following Ebola religiously on every news-handling twitter available to you. Wash your hands like a normal human being. All that you are doing by buying into the media’s portrayal of this is playing right into their hands. They are making profits off of the public’s fear. But the fear is misplaced. You are actually, legitimately, statistically more likely to die from:

  • Hunting accidents
  • Drawstrings on your jackets
  • Kitchen fires
  • Falling in the shower
  • Bunk bed accidents
  • Cheerleading

So if you are freaking out about Ebola, stop showering and wearing hooded apparel too. If you are going to be scared about something, be scared about the national debt. Just do not be scared of getting Ebola.