Understanding ebola will lessen the panic

Aug 05, 2014

No one expected to be reading current headlines about another Ebola breakout.

It’s a disease that is supposed to be in the past, but here we are in a panic as an outbreak that started in Guinea has now reached the U.S. More than 700 people in West Africa have died from the disease — making it the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

Now two American missionaries, based in Charlotte, have contracted Ebola in Africa and are back in the U.S. for treatment.

The patients have been transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for experimental treatments, and people in the area are angry, claiming their lives are in extreme danger.

Since the disease hasn’t affected many people before this latest outbreak, drug companies haven’t been in a hurry to find a cure. While there is no cure and no proven vaccine to prevent Ebola, we do know how it is contracted. It is not an airborne illness — it is a hemorrhagic fever virus that can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s blood or other bodily fluids.

These patients were brought here with extreme caution as not to expose any more people to the horrific disease. They will be kept in a specially constructed isolation unit and will be closely monitored. Over cautiousness is a good thing in these situations, but panic does not help anyone. On the other hand, educating ourselves on the reality and rarity of the disease should calm our fears.

Unless you’ve been in Africa and came in close contact with infected people, the chances of contracting Ebola are extremely rare. The CDC states that virus is extremely deadly, but not highly contagious.

There are signs that the experimental serum given to the patients before being brought back to the U.S. is working — or at least the patients’ health seems to be improving.

The only good that could possibly come out of this outbreak is more awareness of the disease. Even if it doesn’t affect any more people in the U.S., it’s killing hundreds of people in Africa. Hopefully more time and money will be spent on finding a cure and a vaccine so this often-fatal disease can be eradicated.