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Opinion & Editorial

You’re not going to get Ebola

Calm down. Yes, the first case was confirmed in the US this Tuesday. And that is definitely not a good thing. But you will not contract Ebola.

Let’s look at the hypothetical worst-case scenario for an Academy community member. You travel to West Africa in the next few weeks and come into contact with the virus. What happens? Are you doomed?

Of course not. Consider all the publicity surrounding the cases of the two American doctors who contracted Ebola and now the patient in Dallas. These people receive world-class treatment. They are taken to the best hospitals in the country, quarantined, and see the most qualified doctors available. Any person they come in contact with is monitored by doctors until it is confirmed that they do not have Ebola. The chances of survival for you, privileged American citizen, are extremely high.

And that is if you contract Ebola. The odds of that are also miniscule. You must come into contact with the sweat, blood, vomit, saliva, feces or urine of a victim. The American who now has Ebola will be nowhere near anyone who might contract the virus. It is not yet airborne, and with the American health care system’s technology, funding, staff, and isolation wards, you could not come into contact with a victim if you tried.

So why, when we all can tell the odds of anyone we know actually contracting the virus are infinitesimally small, is there such a panic about Ebola? It is tragic that an American must suffer this virus. But it is not the worst thing; they will receive the greatest of care.

The real tragedy is that countries in West Africa will not see this same kind of quality of health care. There is not enough funding to support large isolation wards, and so nurses, doctors, and other hospital guests are in constant contact with victims. They do not have enough drugs, enough rubber gloves, or enough nurses to care for the overwhelming number of victims. And so the disease spreads rampantly in this environment.

Nigeria spends an average of $94 per year on the health care of each citizen. Liberia: $65. Guinea: only $32. The United States spends an average of $8,895. This means the only solution is for first world governments to continue sending aid and supplies to West African countries. They cannot fight the disease alone. The Center for Disease Control estimates that, at the rate the virus is currently traveling, 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone will contract Ebola in the next three months.

Ebola is nothing we Americans should panic about. Fear for our own health will do nothing to solve the epidemic that will ruin the lives of millions in West Africa. We need to act by helping our neighbors, not prepare for a US catastrophe that likely will not occur.

Written by by Kendall Silwonuk’15



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