If you haven’t heard by now, Ebola has arrived in the United States.
It has been difficult for the average news consumer to go long without hearing a panel discussion or hyped-up news anchor talking about Ebola virus. Politicians have called hearings about it and have managed to politically polarize the virus’ existence. Comedians are even packing Ebola into their less-than-infectious punch lines.
What is often missing in the discourse is the truth about Ebola and how it operates.
What exactly is Ebola virus? The Ebola scare is similar to the AIDS scare in the 1990s when professional basketball player Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV. The uncertainty and the lack of knowledge rattled the public.
From a medical perspective, Ebola is a viral disease that can be fatal to humans. The symptoms consist of something as simple as and similar to a common cold, food poisoning or, on a more obviously dangerous note, impaired kidney and liver functions and internal bleeding.
Given all of the attention the virus has gotten, it would be easy to assume that Ebola spreads easily. In actuality, the virus spreads similarly to, but not entirely like, HIV/AIDS in that only contact with bodily fluids of an infected person will spread the virus from human to human. Personal protective equipment is crucial, but doesn’t require a much more acute sense of caution than when caring for any other ill individual.
From a social perspective, Ebola is a terrifying mystery that has the potential to sweep the nation.
Perhaps the most unfortunate yet interesting of all Ebola reactions have come from our government and some of our elected officials’ and political pundits’ conspiracy theories.
Rep. Tom Cotton said, “President Obama is not protecting our country and our families from Ebola.”
Rep. Thom Tillis weighed in by saying, “Obama has no plan to stop people who would come to this nation and threaten our safety and security.”
In more extreme cases, international news sources and some U.S. politicians and loudmouths are claiming that Ebola is a virus that was manufactured by the Department of Defense in an attempt to curb overpopulation.
Rush Limbaugh, in typical Rush fashion, said the President wanted Ebola in the U.S. as a form of payback for slavery.
But thankfully, Mel Robbins summed it up best when she told CNN that “fear-bola attacks the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking. It starts with a low-grade concern about the two health care workers diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas and slowly builds into fear of a widespread epidemic in the United States.”
Awareness is the key. It is imperative to be aware, but more importantly, understanding of what is really happening. The problem arises when the information we are fed surpasses awareness and becomes absurdity and panic. We have a real problem in the U.S. and it isn’t Ebola – it’s lunacy.
Mullis, a senior criminal justice major from Wallburg, is an opinion writer.