Ebola hysteria: an epic epidemic?

Minutes after Thomas Duncan was officially diagnosed as the first person in the U.S. to have Ebola, news stations around the nation flashed headlines with dramatic titles that spelt out doom for Americans via the Ebola virus. Accompanying this was mass hysteria within the US populace that spoke of nothing less than the destruction of American society.

Now, a couple of months after the first outbreak in the U.S., many people are becoming increasingly more fearful of the virus and the potential damage it can bring to the U.S.. There are only a few cases of Ebola throughout the nation, but people blatantly ignore the numbers and simply cry out against the virus.

As more people focus on Ebola, the contrast between the attention Ebola has received and the attention other also dangerous diseases have received grows more evident. Granted, Ebola is a highly dangerous disease, with a 90% fatality rate in West Africa. However, the public and media reaction towards this disease is unproportionally overblown.

The aptly coined “Ebolanoia” affects more Americans than actual Ebola victims, with panic as the most evident symptom.

Ebola, despite its grand total of four cases in the U.S., is drowning out pleas for help and attention from other also noteworthy diseases and is only further portrayed as a society-destroying device due to mass hype and attention from the media, skewing reality.

The HIV virus has afflicted over 1.1 million people in the U.S. and continues to affect 50,000 new people each year, while 600,000 individuals die from heart disease annually. Compared to such diseases, Ebola, for Americans, is not such a threat.

“The constant focus on Ebola in the U.S. distracts attention from other, more widespread diseases and illnesses in the U.S. that affect and kill more people overall,” Sophomore Hari Krishna said.

All this mass hysteria does is cause people to panic more, reducing the capacity for rational thought while also splitting the country across divisive lines as to how America should treat Ebola.

“The media’s portrayal of Ebola is harmful in the U.S. than Ebola itself because it misconstrues opinions and wrongly affects many people,” Sophomore Adam Towers said.

Although Ebola is in fact a dangerous disease, when placed in comparison with other diseases such as AIDS, the hype surrounding it seems increasingly inflated. The only thing the constant media portrayal of Ebola is doing in America is spreading unwarranted fears about it and preventing people from thinking rationally – and thinking rationally is what is truly necessary to combat this disease.

Photo courtesy of health.wusf.usf.edu