The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first diagnosed case of Ebola within the United States on September 30th. Media frenzy soon ensued, plunging America into chaotic panic. Days later, in the secluded isolation ward of Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Thomas Lee Duncan succumbed to the disease and died. Duncan is thus far the sole fatality of the Ebola “epidemic” within the United States, with only nine additional cases being diagnosed. Despite the few cases and even fewer deaths caused by Ebola, Americans across the country have developed intense and irrational paranoia.
First discovered in 1976, in the current Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ebola is a rare, yet deadly hemorrhagic fever, which has had a detrimental effect on various African nations. According to the World Health Organization, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have experienced widespread cases of Ebola resulting in a death toll topping 4,500. The United Nations Security Council declared the Ebola outbreak “a threat to international peace and security,” and the United States deployed troops to help combat the disease. Indeed, within West Africa, the Ebola epidemic has been devastating, but within the United States it can hardly be called an epidemic at all.
Within the United States, the threat posed by Ebola is essentially minimal, with public health officials pointing out that one can only contract Ebola through direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids. President Obama stated in his address on Ebola that “the dangers of you contracting Ebola, the dangers of a serious outbreak are extraordinarily low.” President Obama has also promised a robust response to the Ebola virus in America and advocated for an effective international response.
America’s advanced public health infrastructure, coupled with our state of the art medical facilities and experienced professionals, almost ensures that this disease will be entirely contained. The death of one American who contracted his disease in Liberia has evolved into a widespread epidemic of fear. In Maine, an elementary school teacher was put on administrative leave for 21 days after traveling to Dallas, where the first case of Ebola in the US was found—this teacher did not have Ebola. In Mississippi, a middle school principal went to Africa for a funeral; upon returning to America the parents forced the teacher to take a weeklong vacation, despite the fact that he traveled to an Ebola-free nation.
This irrational fear of Ebola is shocking, since only one American death has been attributed to it, while the common flu killed 49,000 Americans between 1976 and 2007. Despite the fact that the chance of contracting Ebola within the United States is ridiculously minimal, an all out hysteria has swept across the nation. This hysteria is entirely the fault of the news media, which has shamefully exaggerated the magnitude of the disease for ratings. Fear not Americans. You will not be contracting Ebola anytime soon.