Now that New York City has documented its first case of Ebola, it’s time for Americans to freak out. Okay, I exaggerate. However, I have been completely turned off by the hysteria emanating from the mainstream media looking to increase ratings and elected officials playing politics, knowing there are midterm elections in a few weeks. As we know, politicians and partisans cannot let a good crisis go to waste. I have shunned all cable news these past few weeks. I now prefer to get my information from the cooler heads at NPR (Morning Edition), PBS (The News Hour) and the BBC. Actually, the best source for information about Ebola can be found on the World Health Organization’s web site. (Imagine that!)
This is not to say that people shouldn’t be worried because it is a scary virus and taking precautions, such as washing your hands, is always a good idea. Furthermore, it is obvious from recent events in Dallas, that the United States is ill-prepared to deal with this disease. That should change as experts are called in to educate hospitals and their staff about how to interact with infected patients, dispose of contaminated material and bio-hazard waste, and handle lab specimen properly. Coordinated protocols for health care workers traveling to and from affected regions is a must.
A big part of the fear originates from the lack of trust for those in charge, and some of it is quite warranted. However, fear is overcome by knowledge. You can diminish the anxiety you feel by seeking information from reliable sources, not solely from those whom you align with ideologically – be it on the left or the right. Below are some articles and resources you may find helpful. There will no doubt be more cases of Ebola diagnosed in this country, but you are more likely to be killed by a shark, or by lightning, or in a car crash (that one much more likely), than from Ebola.
There is no better resource about Ebola than the World Health Organization. Information is power. Information reduces fear and anxiety.
“As the international community mobilizes on all fronts to combat the unfolding Ebola outbreak, the primary emphasis must continue to be on stopping the transmission of the virus within Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) experts said today.”
Some examples of needless panic:
However, there are legitimate reasons to be afraid. Below is an interesting study that explains the panic.
“The experiment’s takeaway was this: When the perception of risk increases, the feeling of risk increases. This lesson is instructive in thinking about why some pockets of America are overreacting to the threat of Ebola.
To our collective credit, the American people are thinking pretty calmly about the disease’s threat. Just 24 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup Poll said they were worried about contracting Ebola. But for some communities who see themselves as being just a few degrees of separation away from Ebola, the threat has provoked panic. To extend the metaphor from the Michigan experiment, these communities are being sneezed on or are acting out of fear of being sneezed on.”
But there is some good news! Congratulations, Nina!
And more good news!
Seems all it takes for vaccine research and production to kick into overdrive is for Ebola to impact the developed world. Funny how that works…
“Are these companies just profiting off misery? As The New York Times pointed out yesterday, testing and scaling up the production of drugs takes real money, and bringing a new vaccine to market can cost as much as $1.5 billion.
This often pays off for Big Pharma, as patented, brand-name drugs can be worth worth billions, For diseases like Ebola, though, it can take a humanitarian disaster to create the necessary urgency to act.
Sure we can be cynical. But to view the success of stocks like Bavarian Nordic and NewLink Genetics as the profits of doom is to ignore the economic realities that go into discovering and administering a real-world cure”.
Perhaps cuts to Ebola research, due to budget cuts for research at the NIH, should never have been made. It appears more cuts are on the horizon, per the sequester…perhaps Congress should reconsider that one.
Big data put to good use:
“CDRs can therefore tell epidemiologists where people have been, when—and perhaps also where they are headed, based on their past movements. Analysing the records has proved helpful in tracking the spread of diseases on previous occasions.”
The video in the above link explains it well. I recommend watching it.
(I tried to embed the video, but I couldn’t get it to show up. Sorry.)
Now that you know the odds of catching Ebola, have some facts, are aware of the misinformation out there as well as what is being done/can be done to deal with any future cases, and hearing the news that Nina Pham is Ebola-free, chill a little and enjoy an Ebola-fear-free weekend. Peace!