Ebola: Early Warning or Exaggeration?

Ebola, Ebola, and more Ebola. In recent months, this is all the public seems to hear on the news and see on the Internet and social media sites. The hysteria over the virus has escalated to the point that Maine has issued that a returning nurse from West Africa, Kaci Hickox, who has tested negative for Ebola, stay quarantined in her house for 21 days. With this maelstrom of confusion and panic, one can only ask “Is this a bit too much?”

According to Direct Relief (directrelief.org), the survival rate for a person with Ebola is around 50 percent with the present understanding of the disease. Considering the amount of people who have died, which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported to be approximately 5,000, 50 percent is actually a very promising number. AIDS, for example, which has plagued humanity for over 30 years, kills over 1,000,000 people annually according to the World Health Organization. Influenza and pneumonia kill over 53,000 people each year in the United States alone according to the CDC. Indeed, it can be entirely possible that people are overreacting. Most of the countries where the people are dying in numbers are areas like Sierra Leone and Liberia where proper hygiene is not practiced as much.

Becton Senior Norberto Linao III said, “I definitely believe Ebola is exaggerated by the media. More people die of more common diseases every year.”

Does this mean we should forget about Ebola altogether? The short answer is no.

As President Obama once stated, “Today thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands. And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us.”

Overall, the main issue here is that Ebola has the potential to become much worse than it is already. The reason behind diseases like AIDS and influenza killing more people annually than Ebola, is they are common diseases that have had effective medicines developed to combat them. Ebola does not have any known remedy other than practicing proper hygiene, providing intravenous fluids, and balancing electrolytes, as well as maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure.

While Ebola likely has been exaggerated in the media, steps have to be taken to prevent it. The CDC recommends that one practices careful hygiene, such as washing one’s hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They also suggest that people avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids.