Ebola is a pretty hot topic right now. It’s deadly, it’s fairly recent, and it’s scary. Honestly, however, it is also a non-factor for most Americans. With only three people in America having been diagnosed with Ebola at this point, many of the corresponding freakouts from people within the United States prove illogical.
Don’t get me wrong; in West Africa, the threat of Ebola is extremely horrifying. The heartbreak that it brings to those who contract it as well as to their family members is significant and deserves attention. Thousands have already died, and thousands more will if containment efforts continue to prove futile.
Still, only three in America have been diagnosed, and only two of those three were even infected in the United States. Ebola is a threat, but it is not the biggest threat that we as Americans face.
The CDC reports that over 596,000 people in the United States die of heart disease yearly. Further, over 53,000 die of the flu and pneumonia. One has died from Ebola this year.
Media is a huge propagator of the trendy new Ebola fear. Online magazines, talk show hosts and even that classmate with the good follower-to-following ratio on Twitter are not exactly helping ease the public. The American epidemic, it seems, is not actually Ebola but the irrational fear of contracting it.
However, on the other side of the spectrum, we do have some less than brilliant people who may undersell the danger of Ebola. Although it is not epidemic-level in the United States, common sense dictates that we do our best to take preventative measures anyway… not just for Ebola but for all other viral and bacterial threats.
Governor Nathan Deal has famously given awful advice, allegedly relaying it from Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Georgia’s commissioner of the Department of Public Health: “water kills the Ebola virus… wash your hands.”
Of course, washing one’s hands kills germs, but perhaps the more responsible thing for Deal to do would have been to give more pragmatic information, such as the fact that bleach more can successfully kill Ebola viruses.
Even with Deal’s slip-up, the people whom we more often hear complaining are those who actually have access to clean water, to the Internet and to other resources that make living without Ebola a much easier possibility.
The truth is not the same for many people in nations such as Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They should be the ones for whom people are worried.
President Barack Obama has chosen an Ebola czar, former Chief of Staff Ron Klain, to address the issue of Ebola not only in the United States but also in West Africa. With Ebola’s African epidemic having begun back in December 2013, why is the United States just now putting in an effort to combat it internationally? Only when an extremely small number of Americans are affected does our nation put up the affront that we suddenly care about treatment for everyone.
Meanwhile, the death count in West Africa is over 4,500 documented lives lost.
Regarding Ebola, don’t fear for your own life; fear for the lives of those who actually have to face it.