Editorial: Paranoia Is Infectious


With only 11 confirmed and 114 potentially exposed to the West African Ebola virus, should our nation of more than 316 million people live in fear of a potential outbreak?

According to the Center for Disease Control, while the 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in recorded history, impacting multiple countries in Western Africa, the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is very low.

Although the Ebola virus can be spread in a number of ways, it cannot be transmitted by air or by water. A person can only be infected through direct contact with another person who has been contaminated with the virus.

The CDC also said that healthcare providers, family and friends of Ebola patients run the most risk of coming in contact with infected blood or body fluids.

So, if there is such little risk of an outbreak, why has Ebola become such a hot-button issue in the United States?

Perhaps it was the widespread transmission of the disease in countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone? Perhaps it was the first laboratory-confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S.? Or, perhaps it was all the attention from politicians and celebrities, like President Barack Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who have taken a vocal stand on fighting the epidemic?

But with all of the buzz surrounding Ebola, its easy to see why so many Americans have succumbed to the fear of widespread outbreak.

— Daniel Offner