Ebola reports incite panic


Photo Courtesy of CNN

Viking Logue Staff

Starting with the diagnosis of a Dallas, Texas man who had traveled from Liberia, the focus of the Ebola Virus Disease has shifted from treating the West African outbreak to the potential of an American epidemic. Although those most at risk for infection are limited to health care providers caring for Ebola patients in addition to patients’ close friends and family, Americans have become increasingly panicked about the possibility of a domestic Ebola outbreak.

With constant coverage by the media, Ebola has transformed from a global health concern into a sensationalized media spectacle, confusing and misinforming the public. With countless sources providing sometimes contradictory information, it is understandable that the majority of the American population is fearful of the virus. Frightening statistics and grueling images of patients inundate the media, which has incited hysteria throughout parts of the U.S. However, people should remain rational in taking preventative measures, and consider the facts about Ebola provided by the World Health Organization as well as the Center for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluid of an infected person, objects such as needles that have been contaminated with the virus, or through infected primates and fruit bats. Not only is the virus not airborne, transmission of the virus is impossible when a person with the virus is showing no symptoms which can occur during a 21-day incubation period.

In addition to the conflicting information provided by the media, there are dueling viewpoints in regards to treating and preventing the disease. Strict policies imposed by government officials, such as the mandatory quarantine of all health care workers returning from West Africa, convey ambiguous messages about the disease.

Rather than causing a widespread panic through drastic and scientifically inaccurate preventative measures, news outlets and government officials should place greater emphasis on informing the public about the symptoms of Ebola and its transmission. Healthcare providers should ensure appropriate procedures and practices throughout hospitals, such as the proper sterilization and infection control measures when handling objects like syringes and needles. Additionally, the appropriate protective gear such as masks, gloves and gowns should be worn while treating patients.