Virus outbreak elicits national concern

Ebola is a lethal hemorrhagic fever that was rarely seen before 2014. Without a known cure, Ebola has been causing widespread fascination and panic throughout America.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic has been the largest in the history of Ebola itself, affecting several countries in West Africa and bringing the death toll to almost 5,000 people. Experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) declared in a statement released Aug. 8 that the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa is an international health emergency that requires a well-planned global approach to eliminate it.

Statesman believes that even though Ebola is less prevalent in America, we must make efforts to inform people about the disease and get involved to raise funds for West Africa. Similar to how ALS awareness was raised through the ice-bucket challenge, overseas charity organizations should use social media to raise awareness and funds for Ebola to help those in need in West Africa. Funds could be raised through advertising and fundraisers on the local and national level. Celebrities can also set a trend to donate, host benefit concerts and create benefit albums.

Besides the need for aid to West Africa, Americans need a better understanding of what Ebola is and how worried they should be about contracting it. Symptoms associated with Ebola include hemorrhage and other flu-like symptoms. Although the Ebola virus is highly infectious—a very small strain of the virus is enough to cause illness—it is not highly contagious since the virus can only travel through bodily fluids. Laboratory experiments conducted on nonhuman primates showed that a single Ebola virus is able to trigger an infection and possible death. There have been approximately 10,000 cases and 5,000 deaths in Africa. In individual West African countries, mortality rates range from 60 to 96 percent. In America, however, there have been four cases and one death.

Doctors and researchers in the U.S. have adept methods of containing the diseases, taking precautionary measures to isolate those suspected to have Ebola. However, creating an available vaccine for those in West Africa, sending other medical personnel, is the most important step.

Statesman also believes the misinformation in the US about Ebola is causing unnecessary fear and confusion. In order to ease the worrying, it is important for American citizens to inform themselves using credible sources of information, as well as refraining from spreading false rumors about the spread of Ebola. The lack of publicity of West African suffering compared to that of the Ebola victims in America creates a skewed perception of where Ebola is most prevalent and dangerous. However, since some Ebola symptoms share flu-like symptoms, Statesman encourages everyone to continue practicing proper hygiene to reduce the chances of contracting any viruses.

By emphasizing the development of Ebola in Africa instead of the presence of it in America, it is understood that the chances of getting Ebola in America are slim and that the real conflict is providing people in West Africa with the health care they need.