Why we still don’t need to be scared of Ebola

The recent return of Ebola in the past month has arroused many unnecessary fears regarding the virus.


Natasha Vyhovsky, News Editor

Hearing students crack Ebola jokes on a regular basis upon hearing a sneeze, cough or any other symptom of common allergies, it is obvious few people understand what Ebola is and how one can actually contract it. In response to the recent outbreak of Ebola and its recent arrival in the U.S., a national fear has erupted as many have begun to refer to the epidemic as a “death sentence.” The root of these disproportionate fears is mainly due to a general lack of understanding surrounding not only the transmission of Ebola, but also its presence in our country. One would surely be able to rest at ease knowing the truth about the disease and not solely the public’s over-exaggerated response to it. Ebola is much harder to catch than people realize, and treatment in the U.S. is also more successful than the general public realizes.

Contrary to what much of the public believes, even if one was near a person with Ebola, they could not become infected by simply being in their presence. It is important to understand and rationally evaluate Ebola for what it is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola is not transmitted through air like the flu virus, for example. The spread of Ebola is reliant on the contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola, infected animals spreading the virus, or needles and syringes that have been contaminated. The Ebola virus is much like the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in that sense; you cannot catch either by walking past someone who has it or by breathing the same air. While HIV is a serious virus, people do not live in fear of ‘“accidentally” contracting it in their everyday lives, as has been the fear of many in regards to Ebola.  In light of this, it is necessary to realize the very low possibility of the continued spread of Ebola. The only two cases of Ebola being contracted in the U.S. were nurses who remained in very close contact with the vomit, blood and other fluids while caring for Ebola patients. Their risk was exponentially higher than the average citizen to begin with. Yes, Ebola is serious. Yes, Ebola is in the U.S. But for the average citizen, this doesn’t mean much. Reported cases of Ebola have been around since 1976; this is not a new thing. Continue to refrain from sharing needles, sharing spit and touching feces, and I think we will all be okay. There is no need to worry so much about something so far from affecting us.

It is understandable that, after observing the conditions of the Ebola outbreak in Africa, many people would worry about the virus arriving in the the U.S. The rate of transmission in Africa is significantly high, and their survival rate has been significantly low. However, the sanitation and treatment options in Africa are much less effective than those of the U.S., which is a very crucial factor in the Ebola epidemic. The truth of the matter is that four of the five Ebola patients in the U.S. have recovered, according to Forbes. The fear of Ebola being a “death sentence” is pretty irrational when you look at those statistics. As opposed to the thousands of cases seen in West Africa, the U.S. has only three cases currently. For all of these reasons, the continued growth of Ebola in the U.S. at the level that many fear is highly unlikely.

With the odds of contracting Ebola in our country remaining low and the remarkable treatment success of hospitals like Emory University Hospital in Atlanta who have recovered the staggering majority of cases, it is likely the U.S. will keep this virus at bay. We do not need to spend our days fearing the possibility of contracting Ebola; to be brutally honest, there are hundreds of illnesses that take lives every day in our country. This doesn’t mean we should constantly worry about the “what if” of every disease or virus that becomes significant at the current moment in time. Fearing irrational possibilities of Ebola without the full knowledge and facts surrounding it is no way to live. Much like the Swine Flu outbreak a few years back, the Ebola hype will pass too.