By Liz Gunn || Am I the only one who is not really concerned about contracting Ebola? Am I short sighted for thinking that the chances of me contracting Ebola are about the same as me contracting any other rare but potentially fatal disease? I certainly don’t mean to make light of a disease that has taken the lives of so many and continues to spread rapidly in West Africa, but in the Unites States I’m just not buying into all the fear mongering. Not yet, anyway.
The media is doing laps around this story. “Ebola is here!” “Ebola will kill you!” “Run for your lives!” This is the eleventh post on FITS just this month referencing the disease, so apparently it’s top of mind for all of us here.
Ebola is only contracted by direct contact of bodily fluids, through an entry point like nose, mouth, eyes or open wounds. Unless you work in the medical field and have a patient who is infected and that patient is showing signs and you do not practice proper protocol, then your chance of contracting this disease is seemingly very low.
The reason the outbreak in West Africa is continuing to grow is that West African medical facilities do not have the resources to follow proper guidelines of isolation and precaution. We are talking about very poor, third world countries with extremely limited access to even basic medical supplies.
Some treatment centers don’t have running water. Needles are often reused. Protective gloves and clothing are not always available to medical staff. Of course they are not going to be able to contain this disease with these practices in place. Our founding editor doesn’t have much more faith in our country’s ability to isolate the disease, but I disagree.
Another sad but disgusting fact is that the transmitability of the disease does not end when a patient dies. Proper disposal, burial or cremation of the bodies of victims is another essential component in stopping the spread of Ebola.
In addition to the loss of nearly 5,000 lives and counting, this disease is financially crippling to these countries that are already so impoverished. Economist believe that this aspect of the overall crisis could take more lives than the disease itself.
The good news? There is a vaccine on the fast track to approval, developed by GlaxoSmithKline with the help of the world’s leading health agencies. Phase one of the clinical trials (both in the US and in West Africa) commenced last month. If successful, phase two is slated to begin in early 2015.
After seeing the way things are continuing to play out oversees, fear for some is understandable. But for most of us, it’s probably unnecessary. I can’t say that I blame healthcare workers in the state of Texas for being a little bit frightened and a lot cautious, but outside of that profession – I think the rest of us should take a deep breath for right now.
Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, travel enthusiast, food snob, daydreamer and lifelong Gamecock fan. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.