Ebola: Scares and Reality

Clara Baldwin, Staff Member

Ebola. Just the word itself sparks a fear that has been spreading faster than the epidemic itself. But how many of us are actually aware of what Ebola is, much less the background behind it? The 2014 Ebola epidemic is one of the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa.

There have been many reports and rumors on this epidemic. Three imported cases, including one death, and two cases of healthcare workers have been reported in the United States. CDC workers are taking precautions to prevent further spread of Ebola within the United States. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is one of the major departments working in the United States government that have sent teams of public health experts to West Africa and will continue to send experts to the affected countries.

So where does Ebola even come from? In Africa, fruit bats are believed to be the natural hosts of the Ebola virus. The virus is transmitted from wildlife to people through contact with infected fruit bats. Monkeys, apes, or pigs become infected by the fruit bats as well. Where then it becomes very easy to spread to humans in Africa because of all the raw meat from different animals they consume or slaughter as a delicacy. The virus is then passed from person to person through direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, feces, or from contact with contaminated needles.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola typically begin within five to ten days of infection. Early signs and symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, and weakness. If Ebola becomes severe, the effects can worsen to nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, stomach pain, severe weight loss, internal bleeding, and bleeding, usually from the eyes, while people near death may bleed from their ears, nose, and rectum.

The Ebola craze has gone into overdrive, with the media throwing gas in the fire to the rumors and spotting which put people in hysteria. It’s become a world-wide epidemic, while comedians and social media have somehow made it into a joke. A Nigerian man may be even charged for an Ebola prank that went out of control. He was sitting at a pub in West Berlin, when he claimed he was suffering from the virus. Twenty firefighters arrived at the scene, but he soon admitted it was all a joke.

A student at Battle High who wishes to not be named stated, “My parents have taken Ebola seriously, they started an Ebola kit filled with supplies in case the disease did spread and we couldn’t have contact with outsiders. The kit includes masks, cards, books, medical supplies’ I think they’re crazy personally. But I guess you can never be too safe.”

Should the U.S. even begin to worry about a disease that didn’t even break out in the same country? Or is this the beginning of a terrible outbreak, with no options for vaccines or cures? Locally in Missouri there’s been rumors of infected people with the deadly disease. We can do nothing but sit back and watch whether Ebola begins to spread, or pass by like old news, and laugh at it one day for even worrying.