Ebola epidemic spreads fear across the nation

By Bethany Hooper

Ebola. It only takes one word to rile a nation and several hundred words to calm fears.

Although health professionals have a general understanding of Ebola, most citizens are misinformed about the subject, producing a knowledge gap between experts and their audience and a widespread fear throughout the country.

Humans are susceptible to four strains of the Ebola virus, with Ebola being the most common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Humans can only contract this disease through bodily fluids. It is not an airborne disease.

Doctors put masks on Guinea. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Doctors put masks on Guinea. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Symptoms of Ebola include: high fever, weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and hemorrhaging, the CDC says.

“[I’m concerned] with how fast it can spread,” sophomore computer science major David Simon-Ogan said. “Right now we know about the existence of it, but … I don’t think we are at that level of preparation.”

After thousands of deaths in West African countries, new concerns are springing up across the U.S. as one man, Thomas Duncan, passed away in Dallas on Oct. 8 from this deadly disease, possibly contaminating those close to him.

“The [media is] kind of pointing fingers at certain people who [have Ebola] as opposed to [discovering] what we can actually do to prevent it from actually spreading here,” sophomore mechanical engineering major Delia Shin said.

Citizens are now worried about the possibility of a nationwide epidemic. Doctors recently diagnosed a nurse, who treated Duncan, with Ebola shortly after his death.

With media disseminating panic, many wonder where it will go next and how the university will be prepared for such an event.

“Ebola clearly represents a significant world health challenge and it should concern everyone, not just those at universities,” university Health Director David McBride wrote in an email. “The human loss in West Africa is tragic.  I believe that with vigilance and coordinated responses to reported and confirmed cases, we will not see significant spread in the U.S. in the same way that has been experienced in other parts of the world.”

As the university, and the nation, prepare for every scenario, students should take precautions against the threat of Ebola. Students should cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, receive immunization shots and wash hands regularly, McBride said.

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