Ebola: should we be worried?

Zachary Thomas, Contributing Writer

A recent outbreak of Ebola in multiple African countries with a fatality rate of over 50 percent that has led to thousands of deaths . Consequently, people around the world are worried about an outbreak in their own country. So far, there have been four cases of Ebola in the United States and only one reported death.

This raises an important question: will there be an Ebola outbreak in the United States? The odds seem highly unlikely. While there is a non-zero chance of a large contraction, an outbreak will not occur. The widespread state of panic in the United States is the result of people feeling a threat to social order. Breaking news brought to us by the media causes people to overreact instead of addressing the facts and understanding the magnitude of the situation.

There has been a recent decline in the talk and subsequent fear of Ebola thanks to improved education about the disease. Many have become more knowledgeable about the chances of getting Ebola, the developed medical systems established in the United States, and the precautions the government and global health organizations are taking to prevent the spread of the disease.

People have started to realize how low their chances of getting infected really are, especially when faced with the comparison of Ebola to more probable life-threatening scenarios. Chelsea Rice of Boston.com created a list of everyday activities that have a greater probability of killing us than Ebola, including flying in airplanes, failing to wear a seatbelt, and walking to work. Even getting eaten by an alligator and dying from a bee sting are more likely to kill the average person, yet we hardly ever fear the occurrence of these far-fetched possibilities. Relating facts like these to Ebola allows people to understand what exactly they are dealing with and the minimal severity of the situation.

The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 is another example that can put Ebola into perspective. This outbreak killed millions and similarly caused a great scare and disrupted social order. The flu and other viruses have helped us develop our medical systems and institutions so we can protect the public health and prevent outbreaks. Perri Klass of CNN says we should harbor more fear of the flu than of Ebola; an Ebola outbreak in the United States is highly unlikely because of our advanced medical systems. The reason for the outbreak and high death rate in African countries is due to less advanced medical systems, which practice primitive treatments and lack proper preventive methods to limit the spread of Ebola.

Americans have grown less fearful knowing that the United States possesses advanced medical programs. According to David Sharp of SF Gate, there is a long list of safety precautions and quarantines that nurses and doctors must comply with when dealing with Ebola. This degree of safety is unmatched and fosters a greater feeling of security.

The initial shock and fear of Ebola has subsided, allowing people to assess the situation at hand. While Ebola is a serious issue that is not to be taken lightly, there is currently no need to worry about an outbreak in the United States.


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