BY EMILIA MAJERSIK, CONTRIBUTOR
Panic and fear have ensued after reports of an Ebola outbreak began circulating earlier this year. Since the outbreak began in Guinea this March, more than 13,000 cases have been reported in West Africa. The countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been hit worst by the epidemic as the deadly virus sweeps through their poor communities. The survival rate for Ebola is lower than for many other viruses, especially in areas with limited available medical care. After contracting the virus, symptoms escalate quickly and most deaths occur within the first two weeks.
We interviewed several Wilson students and only a few actually knew the countries where the outbreak is occurring. Despite the horrific nature of Ebola, experts say an epidemic in the United States is very unlikely. Freshman Claire Shaw said, “Concern is good because it leads to precautions, but too much creates panic.”
Junior Carl Stewart said, “I think the fear may be rational, but its overhyped.” Last month, a group of senators began pushing for a flight ban from several nations in West Africa. Others believe a ban would be an overreaction which would hurt the economies of affected nations and make it even harder for their citizens to receive needed medical attention. Foreign workers can help treat the ill, slow the spread, and implement quarantines.
While some people are alarmed, others make light of the situation or make jokes about it. Shaw said, “I find the Ebola jokes irritating and quite a double standard.” The distance between the U.S. and these nations makes it easier for people to downplay or detach themselves from the suffering and loss. Similarly, Stewart told us “The people making jokes about Ebola are incredibly disrespectful. People don’t joke about cancer because it can affect them, but they think it’s okay to joke about Ebola, which is a distant issue.”
As the situation evolves within the next year, the way the public chooses to react may prove to be very important. Art teacher Avram Lubliner-Walters said, “The community should stay calm and educate students because knowledge is key and information helps ease anxiety.” Students have varied attitudes and reactions to the disease. Walters says “Some students are more globally minded and realize the impacts of this epidemic on the world, while others lack the empathy to sympathize with things that don’t impact them.”
GRAPHIC BY SARAH TORRESEN