FOCUS: Desensationalizing Ebola
DISEASE OUTBREAK PROVOKES GLOBAL MISUNDERSTANDINGS
- Ebola virus (EVD) is a fatal illness carried by bats that can infect humans.
- Symptops appear between two to 21 days from time infected.
- Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function.
- Ebola is transmitted though direct contact with blood, secretions, or bodily fluids of infected patients.
- Although there is no cure, medics rehydrate those infected with fluids and treat specific symptoms.
- Worldwide one has a greater chance of getting chicken pox than Ebola.
by MARIAH LIN
With technology currently advancing at a significantly higher pace, the time it takes to find information has been reduced by more than half; however, this does not necessarily mean that the sources have become more accurate.
Although information is now more accessible and easier to locate, there is a risk in believing everything that is published on the internet. Many fail to realize that anyone can post things without attribution, misleading readers and creating dangerous misconceptions.
As the Ebola outbreak has been in national and global headlines for the past few months, it is evident how heavily the current generation relies on digital media sources. From satirical news sites such as The Daily Currant to the “funny” jokes shared on social media sites, the real epidemic that is affecting the nation is not Ebola, as some of these news sources claims, but the hysteria and sensationalism of Ebola that news outlets are fueling.
“EBOLA IS IN AMERICA,” the headlines scream. They are correct, but there is more to the story. With the death of Thomas Duncan, the first person to die from the hemorrhagic virus in the U.S., it is natural for Americans to be scared. However, there is a lot the mainstream media is not telling its audience. The reason for this is that news sites and other media sources know that humans are inherently drawn to things that scare them, and fear sells.
While it is good to get the most accurate and up-to-date facts on the virus and to remain vigilant in fighting against a potential outbreak in the U.S., the chances of that actually happening are small, according to the Association of Health Journalists.
A complex number called R0 (pronounced “R-nought”), or reproduction number, is used by health organizations to gauge how contagious a disease is. The Ebola virus has a R0 of approximately 1.5 to 2, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Compared to the measles and mumps, which have R0’s of 10 and 18, respectively, it is very small—about as contagious as Hepatitis C. An R0 of around two is nothing to scoff at, but in a country with a strong public health system like the U.S., epidemics are less likely to happen because individuals do not become contagious until after showing symptoms.
The sensationalism of the Ebola virus in America is overshadowing the real effects of the disease on the citizens of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the hardest-hit countries in West Africa. According to WHO, there are 9,911 confirmed or possible cases and 4,868 deaths from Ebola. In these third-world countries, lack of access to information and resources and weak health care systems are contributing to the rising death tolls.
In the globalized world of today, all countries’ issues are connected. The only true way to ensure that the virus does not become endemic here is to stop the outbreak at its source. These West African countries cannot do it alone; they need the help of countries like the U.S.
- This is the world’s first Ebola Outbreak.
- Ebola spreads through water, air or body contact.
- Ebola causes all victims to bleed from their eyes and ears.
- This Ebola outbreak has infected all areas of Africa.
- While this is the largest Ebola outbreak, the first one occurred in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- For an infected person to pass the disease to another individual, the infected person’s bodily fluids must come in contact with another individual.
- Symptoms of bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are only found in 20 percent of cases.
- Of the 54 African countries, cases of Ebola were found in five countries: Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST
Q & A WITH MANUEL BOJORQUEZ
THE CBS NETWORK CORRESPONDENT BASED IN DALLAS, TX, IS A CLASS OF 1997 ALUMNUS, WAS SPARTAN SCROLL MANAGING EDITOR AND GRADUATED MAGNA CUM LAUDE FROM USC.
“People are making fun of Ebola by creating hoaxes. I heard a guy in an airplane just yelled out he had Ebola. Though it’s a big issue, people aren’t taking it seriously.”
-SAMANTHA DIAGO, Senior
“The media is trying to scare people to cause them to take extreme measures to protect themselves. I don’t think Ebola should be broadcast on live TV since it is just causing panic worldwide.”
-NICHOLAS AKHRAS, Junior
“I think we’ve all been over-dramatic; Ebola is not even in California. It should be the government’s problem and responsibility, not the citizen’s problem.”
-GABRIELA GOMEZ, Sophomore
“It [media] makes people scared because Ebola’s a deadly disease, as my mother told me. I think people should take the issue more seriously. I don’t think the news gives much information on it. ”
-IZEA QUINONEZ, Freshman