Did I Just Cheer to Ebola?

This past weekend, I traveled to visit one of my closest friends who goes to school in the Dallas, Fort Worth area in Texas. Upon my arrival, I was greeted with southern hospitality and Tex-Mex galore. I was loving life. That night, my friend took me out for a night on the town.

While the parties and boys were equally wonderful, I noticed something that I could not shake. I arrived in Dallas two days after the announcement that the first Ebola patient in the US was quarantined at a hospital in Dallas. I had anxiety when boarding my plane due to the western spread of the disease, despite the low chance of me contracting the virus.

 

What I found in Dallas though was an unexpected reaction. Most students openly joked about being infected with the virus. People would sarcastically hand me a cup that they had been drinking from and say “now you have Ebola!” At one point, a whole backyard of people were chanting “EBOLA!!” as loud as they could.

On August 8, the WHO declared Ebola to be an international public health emergency. As of today, the virus has infected a patient in Spain and has resulted in the death of a patient in the United States. The probability of Ebola spreading throughout the western hemisphere is becoming more realistic than previously expected. Although the high majority of cases and deaths have been located in western Africa, the current mortality rate is around 48% as of October 9th and there is no specific treatment for the Ebola virus.

 To joke about contracting a deadly and easily transmissible infection is not only insensitive, but also degrades the severity of a pressing global issue. Imagine joking about dying of cancer or HIV/AIDS, two diseases that also have no cure. It presents an uneducated and disrespectful image onto a nation and also implements a disconnected image onto oneself. 

Although I enjoyed being able to visit one of my closest friends, I was disappointed by the thoughtless reaction I saw to an exponentially growing health crisis. In the future, let’s think before we speak and joke about the Kardashians rather than a worldwide epidemic.