Everyone’s seen the headlines, heard the news broadcasts, and felt at least a little taken aback by the severity of the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Criticism on not doing enough to keep the disease from coming into the United States, media outlets criticizing each other for faulty and exaggerated coverage of the outbreak, and neglection of Africa’s affliction with Ebola are all issues running rampant in today’s news. However, it seems as though there isn’t enough being said about what the disease actually is, how it can be prevented, and what we can do to help countries avoid anymore deaths. To help the students of Ledyard High School be informed as to what the disease is, who to listen to, and how to contribute to helping those affected, here are the top three things to remember about the outbreak:
- Ebola is not an airborne disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), transmission of the disease is not through air, water, or food. People who have been confirmed to have Ebola can only transmit it through bodily fluids such as saliva, vomit, sweat, breast milk, semen, urine, and feces, needles and syringes that have been contaminated by someone with the disease, or through fruit bats and primates, which are apes or monkeys.
- There is no current Ebola outbreak in the U.S. The CDC lists only three countries with widespread transmission: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, all of which are West African countries. Dallas, Texas and New York City are under the listing entitled: Countries (Affected Areas) with Travel-associated Case(s) and Localized Transmission. Localized transmission means not widespread, but controlled. Under this category are two other countries, Spain and Nigeria. Both Spain and the United States have a footnote that reads: “These countries each had a single case, and persons traveling to these countries should not be considered to be at risk for exposure to Ebola.” For Nigeria, the footnote reads, “Persons who entered Nigeria on or after September 30, 2014 are not at risk for exposure to Ebola.”
- Ebola is not a brand-new disease. Ebola was discovered in 1976 at the Ebola River in the current Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is located in Central Africa. Outbreaks have happened sporadically over the years in countries like Gabon, South Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa. The disease has been relatively controlled for almost forty years by organizations like the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO).
One of the best ways to keep informed about the disease is to limit your viewing of any news media that seems like they’re exaggerating the disease, and/or if they’re attacking another news source about their coverage of the outbreak. Instead, try to look at updated reports on the CDC and WHO websites, where all the information presented is factual and coming from the people who are studying and containing the disease.
It would be a major understatement to say that the Ebola outbreak in Africa is a problem. Almost 5,000 people have died from the current outbreak, not including those who remained undocumented and undiagnosed cases. However, this is not a reason for a relatively Ebola-free country to start exaggerating the disease’s “outbreak” in the United States. Being informed, aware, and self-controlled is the best thing that we as American citizens can do in a crisis such as this, and will be the most effective way to prevent Ebola from taking anymore lives.
Jamie Bogue, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Jamie Bogue is the Editor-in-Chief for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is a drum major for marching band, sings in Ledyard Carolers, Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Ledyard’s Horizons Yearbook, and is attending Liberty University next fall.