Neighbors of Dr. Craig Spencer received fliers on Thursday, in both English and Spanish, regarding the Ebola virus. Some neighbors gathered on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, outside Dr. Spencer's Harlem building. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Neighbors of Dr. Craig Spencer received fliers on Thursday, in both English and Spanish, regarding the Ebola virus. Some neighbors gathered on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, outside Dr. Spencer's Harlem building. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Does Ebola deserve hysteria?

November 8, 2014

 

The only airborne virus, when it comes to contemporary medical news, is our imagination.IMG_3822

Of course, it’s hard to reign in our mind’s eye when we hear about the symptoms of the Ebola virus. It could seep into our system through our mucus membranes, causing a sore throat and flu-like symptoms. Before we know it, we could all be subject to explosive diarrhea, projectile vomit, purple sores on our arms, and the dissipation of the lining in our blood vessels, causing bleeding out of our eyes.

When these symptoms have a possibility of reaching you or someone you love, it may seem rational to avoid healthcare workers who have come in contact with such a virus, or even stockpile food and water and recede into an underground shelter for protection.

The only rational response to such a virus as Ebola, besides the treatment of it, is education.

“I have a twelve year old who is a bit prone to anxiety,” said Denise Moore, a journalist, author, and educator. She said she knows this child has heard about the Ebola virus and has probably looked into it on his own. “If you don’t tell people or kids the facts, what they make up in their minds is going to be a lot worse.”

With this reasoning, Moore has written an article about Alamo City Moms discussing Ebola with children. “I think when you talk to kids…you have to stay calm and you have to look for the facts. You can’t let yourself get sucked in to the emotions,” said Moore.

When nationwide hysteria broke out over viruses in the past, education and quick policy making helped stop the spread of the virus, and helped stop our imaginations from running wild.

Moore went to college at Illinois Southern University in the 1980s when HIV and AIDS became a widespread virus in the United States. She said she saw the intensity and the contagiousness of the virus get overblown, and she saw those affected by HIV and AIDS be subject to discrimination, just as our nation has begun to spurn healthcare workers who may of may not have been affected by Ebola.

“I think [Ebola] got here faster than we thought it would,” said Moore. She suggested that this may be why there was no specific protocol when Mr. Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in the Unites States, causing a nurse to become infected.

Moore also suggested that Ebola is less contagious than we may believe it to be. “Once symptoms show, you don’t feel like getting on a bus. You don’t feel like getting on an airplane,” said Moore. She said she’s already seen pamphlets and signs with information about how it does spread, which she believes is a good call by the public health department.

Of the 10,000 people diagnosed with Ebola, 4,922 have died, according to the New York Times. These numbers should not frighten us, however. They should unite us.

“I would like activity going on with basic education, just like we did with HIV,” said Moore. She went on to discuss how the gay community raised awareness about the spread of the HIV virus, which stopped countless people from contracting it.

Instead of avoiding health care workers working with Ebola, we should celebrate their bravery and allow them to share their knowledge of the virus. Only by advancing our policy and education for viruses such as Ebola can we stop the virus of fear in our imaginations as a country.

Related Story: Ebola Update: First Case in the United States


This editorial was written for the Editorial Writing on-site competition at the TAJE Fall Fiesta conference a week ago. Participants in this competition witnessed a live interview and were given an hour to write an editorial on the topic presented by the interviewee. This piece won a rating of Excellent. 

 

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