Prior to panicking, educate yourself on Ebola

By Tahlia Terhune, Guest Writer

Ebola has entered the U.S. This is reason enough to quarantine yourself in your basement or pack up and flee to Canada right? Wrong.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is drawing attention on a global scale. With thousands affected, Americans stood by in hopes there would be no encroachment of the disease domestically.

Thomas Eric Duncan entered the United States last week with a case of Ebola he claimed to be unaware of. Naturally, this sparked a sudden panic among citizens fearing they, too, would contract this disease.

According to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)   Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was interviewed on NBC News, there is no need to panic.

“We remain confident that we can contain any spread of Ebola within the United States,” said Frieden.

I don’t believe this disease is something Americans need to worry about. Frieden said that even with the disease being brought into the U.S., good hospitals and infection control will prevent the spread.

Some Americans are expressing  unrealistic demands such as suspending flights in or out of affected areas. People will find ways in or out and it’s not practical merely to suspend flights.

“The best way to protect ourselves is not to seal off these countries but to provide the kinds of services so the disease is contained there. The only way to get to zero risk is to stop it there,” Frieden said.

The CDC’s list of symptoms of Ebola include: fevers greater than 101.5 F, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage. Those infected with the disease can expect to experience symptoms anywhere between two and 20 days.

The late showing of symptoms creates difficulties in the screening process for airlines. They have been checking temperatures of passengers before boarding; however, if a patient has recently been infected they will not test positive.

According to the CDC, Ebola is most commonly spread by direct contact, through broken skin or mucous membranes, with bodily fluids, infected animals and objects that have come in contact with the disease.

I believe a large part of the fear stems from the misunderstanding of the disease itself.

The Huffington Post wrote an article exposing the truth about Ebola and common false beliefs. A few of the myths about Ebola include: the virus is airborne, waterborne or spreads through casual contact, International medical teams brought the virus to West Africa and bringing Ebola patients to the U.S. puts Americans at risk.

Another belief is that, even if cured of Ebola, the disease  will still be passed on to others, and this is the first major outbreak of Ebola.

There is absolutely no reason for panic among American citizens. A domestic outbreak is simply out of the question.

“I think as long as people are careful about who they interact with and particularly how they interact, it isn’t a huge threat to us,” junior Haley Gredvig said.

West Africa calls for aid work to prevent the disease from spreading. If we can stop it there, then worries within the U.S. will become irrelevant. With our modern healthcare system, we can expect to avoid an epidemic and that the disease will be controlled.

It would be difficult for Americans to contract Ebola so there is no need to panic. Worrying is not productive, but it would be productive to focus our efforts on stopping the problem where it began. UNICEF is accepting donations toward relief efforts in West Africa. According to their website, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation is matching donations dollar-for-dollar.

[EDITORS NOTE: According to CNN News, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died from the virus Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. No new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the U.S., but there are eight confirmed cases in Europe. JFK international Airport as well as four other airports in major cities will be screening travelers from West Africa for fever.]

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