O Ebola, Ebola! Wherefore Art Thou Ebola?

EBOLA VIRUSThe 21 Day Quarantine period is over in Dallas, TX. We can all take a huge sigh of relief now. The epidemic is just about over. We don’t have much to worry about. We can put this nonsensical ridiculousness behind us.

Though we still have 120 folks who are “not in the clear” until November 2, they are all under quarantine and nobody else is at risk. Schools were closed last week, our healthcare system kicked it into high gear to help those who could’ve had contact with Ebola, and only 1 has died from this epidemic.

Oh wait…

It’s not over. At least, not for thousands of others still dealing with this in many other countries. But, now that it’s pretty much over here in the States, we’ve begun that whole out-of-sight, out-of-mind mantra that so many of us follow.

To say the least, I’m blown away by the responses I’ve seen from so many people. From the most ridiculous responses, to the overt blaming of sin, to the cultish shouts for someone’s head for bringing this disease to America.

Here’s some of my thoughts about this Ebola Epidemic:

1) America was never really at risk for a breakout

We were never really a high risk to have thousands, or even hundreds, die from this disease. A large part of the disease’s ugliness comes from dehydration and the breakdown of the body. With proper IV lines and hydration being pumped into the persons body, we can avoid a large part of what has killed so many others.

We simply have the healthcare and technology that can fight off diseases such as this one. We don’t have a simple cure (I’ll talk about that later) but we do have the resources to help many survive it because of the medicine and hydration IV lines we can use for people.

2) This disease has been around for a long time (38 years, since 1976) and we’re just now caring in the U.S.

This disease is not new. It was discovered in 1976 and due to poor hygiene, practices, technology, and knowledge, most of the first ones to have this disease passed away quickly and painfully. Still, over the last 40 years we’ve only seen somewhere around 4,000 people (worldwide) die from this. This year (2014), however, it broke out and in a big way. This year alone (since February) it’s estimated that somewhere between 12,000 and 18,000 have contracted Ebola. Of those, it’s been reported that 5,000 (a rough approx. from CDC as of Oct 13, 2014 –> link for CDC) have now died from Ebola. That’s a high percentage and a much higher number have contracted than ever before.

They even estimate that it could grow exponentially without intervention. However, that’s the thing. We are making interventions. Obama among others in the U.N. have made moves to help act upon this tragedy in aiding other countries grab hold of this disease and make sure that it doesn’t spread any further.

But, why did it take so long for us to care? Why was it that when 1, yes ONE, American contracted it that it’s all over our news. I’m saddened that it took this long for action. However, on the positive side, our President’s response has been the best we’ve seen from any of our other President’s in recent history for epidemic disease reactions. (See Reagan: Aids for further demonstration). But this isn’t about making our President sound good. It’s a resounding plea to think about how long it took for us to notice others dying.

3) We’re pretty good at the blame game

When this first came out as an “epidemic” in America. There was a lot of angered and fearful responses from the public. So many people wanted answers for why the government hadn’t done a better job at keeping Ebola out of the states. They wanted some answers. I can agree, that sometimes knowledge is the key to understanding. However, it can’t come from a spiteful mouth. If we scream at each other looking for someone to blame, before you know it, we aren’t getting anywhere but are stuck in a battle of who’s the better devil. I mean really… is it worth it? I think not.

Some names I’ve heard blamed along the way: the healthcare system, Obama, the Government Department of State (yes, really), The Dallas Hospital, the CDC for not communicating about Ebola as well, the US Airport system for letting someone fly while contagious, the LGBTQ community (Americans are paying for letting them continue to sin), and the list goes on….

Here’s a problem I have with that. (I could name dozens but perhaps that’s another article)

When you blame death and disease on any one person or group of people you have become an agent of hate rather than love. You have decided that either A) your sins are much less worse than any others to cause so egregious diseases or B) You’re smarter than the rest of the professionals who are working and doing their best to help these people. And while they’re doing their best you’d rather scrutinize their actions than be helpful. It sounds to me when people use the blame game, they are feeling entitled and show their true colors of prejudice and hate, rather than love.

4) This disease doesn’t even come close to the catastrophe of other leading causes of death

What makes me feel the saddest, is that our recognition of Ebola’s catastrophic damage  far outweighs our aversion to identifying and talking about the many other fatal diseases that are killing many others. To name a few:

Heart disease, Cancer (just about any type you can name has had more cases in the last year than Ebola), Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Influenza and Pneumonia, and Intentional Self Harm (Suicide)

Everyone of these had between 40,000 and 600,000 causes for death in America in 2013. And, yet, we’re worried about catching Ebola? I think we have a few more worrisome diseases that lay in front of it. And what about the 1 MILLION lives that are slain due to HIV/Aids each year around the world? These are things that we should worry about. These are the things that need media attention. Many of our leading causes of death in America can be associated with overeating and obesity. Why don’t we focus more on those things than Ebola? Oh that’s right– because dying from Ebola is a frightening forefront of our media, not our own self-control and healthy eating habits, or helping others with frightening mental illnesses, or the terrible sadness and ostracism felt by so many… those would be too hard to talk about in a positive light.

5) This disease is still killing many people in other countries but we’ve already forgotten

Now, that we have seemingly escaped the clutches of death from Ebola, we’ve already begun to forget how this is still effecting those around the world. If we want to really home in on Ebola and make a positive change, then we need to actually be a positive change. I’m not trying to go against what point 4, however, we need to recognize the difference between fear and action. Being afraid of something shouldn’t be the reason we act. We need to act because we see someone who needs our help. We reacted when Americans needed help with Ebola and we got control of it– now, can we act to help the many others still suffering from the rapid spread of this disease where they are?

 6) We pander to the fear mongering that comes from media

If I’ve learned anything from these last few weeks, I’ve learned that many media outlets are good at offering fear and violence as venues for spreading the “news” of what’s going on in our world today. Very few, if any, news outlets take the time to really rationally distribute information as it comes. Perhaps we should take cues on rationality from Shepard Smith on this idea:

7) Ebola is never gone because the source is still unidentifiable, so finding a cure is more likely the way to go

In the end, for me, I think it’s important to identify the source of where something comes from. However, from my understanding, no one has been able to identify the river in which this virus originates nor has there been enough money to initiate such research. On top of that, there hasn’t been a whole lot of money (until recently) donated to research for cures of Ebola.

With recent donations Ebola research will hopefully be able to find a cure. When that happens, that’s the day I’ll rejoice. I’ll rejoice not because it has left America, but that we have found a way that EVERYONE can benefit from the joy of knowing we have found a way to prevent another life from coming to a short end due to a disease.

So, I have a lot of opinions on this one. I know many will have theirs. You’re allowed to agree or disagree. I just ask that you speak with words of love rather than words of hate.

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