By SARAH GALZERANO
What is Ebola, other than a word that we’ve been hearing about a thousand times a day recently? According to The Washington Post, a U.S. top disease detective called Ebola a “painful, dreadful, merciless virus”, which is why so many people are so afraid of it. The media has been running threatening headlines of a disease that too many of us know nothing about. Okay, sure, there are reasons why it might seem “scary”, but what about the reasons why it shouldn’t worry us?
First, Ebola is way less contagious than other diseases we’re familiar with. According to The Chicago Tribune, numbers show that AIDS and Malaria are far more deadly, and American medical professionals are sure that Ebola will not become an endemic in the U.S. as it has in Africa. To contract Ebola you need to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids (vomit, sweat, blood, urine) of an infected individual.
Ebola is said not to be an airborne disease. Many of us know this, but are still weary. Just how easy could it be to come into contact with Ebola? Direct contact in this sense means that the virus would have to enter your body, through a cut in your skin, nose, mouth, eyes, or privates. It is also possible to become infected through touching a contaminated surface. According to Vox Media Inc., some people who have Ebola never get sick enough to infect others, while others are considered “super-shedders” and are highly infectious.
It’s pretty simple how to avoid Ebola, especially if there were no Ebola victims in your community. We live in New Jersey, so we shouldn’t be afraid of the outbreaks in Texas, unless they continue to spread.
Of course what is somewhat scary about Ebola, is its symptoms. About 50 percent of people that become infected with this disease end up dying. Survivors return to their normal lives after months of recovery that can include hair loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, migraines, and eye and liver inflammation. Again, according to Vox Media, “More often than not, Ebola strikes like the worst and most humiliating flu you could imagine. People get the sweats, along with body aches and pains. They run a fever. Then they start vomiting and having uncontrollable diarrhea.”
Why are some people that are so far away from Ebola, worried about it? A survey conducted in early October from the Pew Research Center, gathered the information that about 11 percent of Americans were “very worried” about contracting Ebola, and 21 percent were only “somewhat worried” about being exposed to the virus. The virus itself has not yet ravaged the United States, but the word has. The Los Angeles Times stated, “It seemed the only thing more contagious than Ebola were the rumors spread about it.” LiveScience worked with David Ropeik, a consultant in risk perception, who said, “Something that is new is scarier because people don’t have past experience with it, and they don’t know how it will play out. That’s why Ebola may seem scarier than the flu (which Americans have experience with…”
So are any of these people that seem so frightened by Ebola, CCC students? I asked Kelsey Frazier, “Are you afraid of Ebola? Why or why not?” to which she said, “No. I feel like the media is making it a bigger deal than it is. We have more people in America dying from cancer or the flu, but no one seems to make a big deal about that.” I also asked Jason Morroni, the same question, to which he said, “No. Ebola is only threatening in places that have less access to medical treatment.”
Should we be afraid of Ebola? Let us at least not be afraid of the word, but the disease itself. As long as the virus is not near us, yet we still remain careful and hygienic, we’ll be safe.