Will the Real Ebola Virus Please Stand Up?
I was just reading one recent article on the Ebola outbreak on CNN.com (“Ebola outbreak ‘running much faster’ than response“), which begins with such quotes from Peter Piot, a microbiologist and one of a team of scientists who originally discovered the virus in 1976 as, “…I continue to be worried that the response to the epidemic is really running behind the virus.” and talk of “unimaginable catastrophe”, while at the end stating, “I’m not worried about an epidemic in the larger population.”
So which is it? Should I be buying my entire family hazmat suits for this coming Holiday Season or should I just shrug, say what a shame it is that people are dying and go about my business? Why is it that we seem as divided over the issues as we are on politics in the United States?
I have a theory…
The theory is that the Ebola virus is divided into two strains: the highly-deadly one (which I will refer to as the Ebola virus) and the completely infectious one (which I will refer to as the “Ebola virus” – in quotes).
The first strain is the one discovered by the same scientists taken highly out of context in this shameful aforementioned article. It is a deadly virus that is spread not through the air but through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. Piot’s concerns were not about widespread global infection but in a more localized area within three African countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. And while difficult to contain, it can, ultimately be contained through knowledge, communication and appropriate standard preventative medical procedures. Scary stuff, nonetheless? Absolutely…in fact, I’m taking the family trip to Liberia off our travel plans for this coming year.
There is, however, a second strain of Ebola that no one seems to be addressing directly, and while it’s not quite as deadly, it is even more infectious than its previously-mentioned counterpart. I’m talking about the “Ebola virus”; the almost constant stream of mis-information, out of context reporting and sensationalized fear-tactics throughout the media, be it right-leaning, left-leaning or otherwise. This strain is wide-spread on a global basis and regular, everyday people are having a hard enough time keeping up with which “Peter crying wolf”-related soundbites have even a kernel of useful, practical information within them. In fact, my own concern is that the people who are attempting to process such information cannot keep up with the rate at which it’s being supplied.
Fortunately, there are several easy cure for the “Ebola virus”. First of all, instead of labeling headlines as “Ebola outbreak ‘running much faster’ than response“, try using “West African nations struggle to contain Ebola outbreak”, which is a lot more true to what Piot was really saying. Secondly, if you see any Ebola-related items through your various interconnected newsfeeds, do not under any circumstances “share” them (sharing is a nice way of saying “infecting”) with your friends (victims) on any social media, whatsoever – don’t even complain about it to them! Lastly, perhaps the best cure for this highly-infectious disease may just be a few well-placed power outages, because sometimes the worst viruses are spread socially through the internet.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to decontaminate my entire body and my laptop a la Karen Silkwood.