Staff editorial: Ebola infects Americans’ bodies and minds

Duke Staff

Running late to an afternoon class, one of our staff members overheard a few students discussing Halloween costumes ideas on A-Walk. “I’m going as Ebola!” a girl proclaimed, detailing how she would do her make-up in a sickly fashion. Her friends agreed that it would be clever enough for a Buzzfeed article for sure.

Conversely, another conversation on the topic of Ebola was brought about when discussing studying abroad and travel during the holidays. This student expressed concern about boarding a plane, fearing for her life that someone else on board would be been infected.

Both student conversations baffled and enraged our staff and got us all thinking, do we really understand the severity of the deadly virus and the affect it might have on our society?

If you’re debating going as a fatal virus for Halloween that’s taken thousands of lives in West Africa, or worried about traveling home, don’t be. That goes for both.

According to the World Health Organization the current outbreak in West Africa is the largest Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. Originally spread amongst fruit bats, the virus made its way to the human population through close contact of blood, secretions and other bodily fluids. Initial symptoms and signs of the virus are identical to a common flu, including fever, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. As the virus takes hold, internal and external bleeding begins to take effect from puncture sites, mucus membranes and body orifices.

Just yesterday, the first diagnosed person in the U.S. with Ebola, Eric Duncan, 42, died Wednesday morning in Dallas, Texas and a patient in Madrid had to have her dog, Excalibur, put down in fear of spreading the infection further reports Politico and CNN respectively.

Still interested in representing an incredibly painful and tragic virus with a reported 7,470 cases as of October 1, and a fatality rate of 50-70 percent? We didn’t think so.

As for worrying if you should board a plane home this Thanksgiving, The Duke says you’re clear for takeoff.

While President Barack Obama made a statement last Monday calling the outbreak a “top nation security priority,” those American worried about infection have little to fear. The virus cannot be spread through air, only direct contact with the fluid or animal infected. In terms of healthcare, the U.S. is far more advanced compared to those nations directly experiencing the outbreak such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

As an American, the virus may not be a serious threat to you, but it should still be treated seriously in regards and respect to those who are directly affected by it.