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Don’t Be Scared: What You Need to Know about the U.S. Ebola Outbreak

Unless you have been living under a rock recently, you’ve most likely heard about the Ebola epidemic that has created a media frenzy over the last month or two. Although the outbreak started in Guinea this past March, the real concern started on August 8, when the World Health Organization declared the epidemic to be an international public health emergency.

The first case in the U.S. was reported on September 30, when Eric Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas after visiting Liberia. He passed away eight days later on October 8.

It’s important to keep in mind that the only way to catch the virus is to come in contact with the bodily fluids of an infected human or animal. 

The American media has been criticized for over-dramatizing Ebola and causing panic, when only one person in the U.S. has died. The fear of the disease has caused protests across the country suggesting that all flights from West Africa to America be canceled to prevent the disease from spreading across the country.

Although the disease is deadly, many University of Illinois students agree that the threat of Ebola in America has been slightly over-exaggerated.

“I think a lot of the coverage in the media has been about spreading fear,” Junior Tess Krueger said. “That can cause mass-panic especially on a college campus like U of I where a lot of people are already sick and illnesses spread easily.”

According to sophomore Katherine Roby, it is important to be informed on how to keep yourself healthy from Ebola, but the media shouldn’t be so obsessive that its coverage scares people.

“I think it’s important to know about Ebola. There definitely should be coverage on it, but not as much because there are not that many people who have been affected by it in the states,” Roby said. “It freaks everyone out, but I don’t think that will cause the media to change their reporting strategy.”

To calm people’s fears, memes have started appearing on social media sites such as Facebook and Tumblr reminding people that as of right now, the disease is under control in the U.S. and there should be no reason to panic.  

Popular comparisons include the fact that Kim Kardashian has been married to more people than have died from Ebola in America, or that Taylor Swift has broken up with more guys.

However, many signs suggest that Ebola can no longer be considered a joking matter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,881 people have died from the virus so far, almost entirely in West Africa. On October 23, a Doctors Without Borders physician became the fourth person in the U.S. to test positive for the virus in New York City, where he is in strict isolation at Bellevue Hospital.

According to junior Anthony Towler, the continued spread of Ebola, even at a slow rate, is enough to be taken seriously. “I don’t think you can over-exaggerate a situation like this and I think it’s pretty serious whether it’s two or two million people that are sick.” Towler said. 

McKinley Health Center, campus’s go-to for all health-related matters, has several great tips for how to keep yourself healthy this cold and flu season.

Adding moisture to your room through the use of a humidifier or vaporizer can help keep your throat from getting dry, which allows your sinuses and ears to drain properly without becoming infected. As always, it is important to get eight hours of sleep, exercise often and eat a well-balanced diet. 


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Sophomore at the University of Illinois. Majoring in journalism and (hopefully) minoring in sociology. Tortilla chip enthusiast. Obsessed with The Mindy Project, Game of Thrones, and corgis.
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