If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that Ebola has come to America. Scores of media reports have dominated the news cycle, warning about this so-called “threat.” The truth of the matter is, Ebola does not pose a serious threat to our safety. Where Ebola has become a problem is West Africa—and it is truly a tragedy in this area of the world. But West Africa has certain factors working against it in regards to the virus. Countries like Sierra Leone do not have the same health care infrastructure, sanitary systems, or wealth the United States has. So far, seven people have been treated in the United States and one has died.
The fact is, Ebola is on the lower spectrum of contagious diseases. To get Ebola, a person must be exposed to the body fluids of the person who has Ebola. Secondly, this exposure has to occur once the patient is exhibiting symptoms of the disease, namely an elevated body temperature.
The media has a tendency to oversell health threats. There have been large worldwide death tolls for other recent media health scares that were successfully contained. In 2009, H1N1, known to most as swine flu, was linked to 285,000 deaths worldwide. It was contained. While the death tolls were much smaller, SARS in 2002, and the avian flu in 2007 were also contained. In 2013, there were nearly 10,000 cases of tuberculosis.
Meanwhile, the flu kills up to 36,000 yearly and is far more contagious. The flu is the true health crisis in America if we go buy the number of yearly deaths. Yes, the death rate for Ebola is high, but that is based on mainly an African sample. Here, nearly all people who have been treated have made a full recovery. So far, despite mass media coverage, Ebola is not a serious threat.
Many of the proposed solutions for Ebola are a fools errand. In political ads across the country, Republican politicians are saying Ebola is proof we need to seal the border. They neglect to say that not a single Ebola case has been recorded from someone passing through the Canadian or Mexican border. Ironically, many of these politicians are the same people who have blocked President Obama from appointing his choice for Surgeon General for months.
There already exists two countries where Ebola has been largely contained: Nigeria and Senegal, and in both of these countries there were more than double the number of cases. Through extensive contact tracing and containment, the World Health Organization has now declared these two countries “Ebola free zones.”
America has the resources to prevent further incidents of the disease. We have a superior health care system and have more money to help solve the problem than any affected country—all we need to do is follow Nigeria’s example.