Diseased Minds

It almost does not bear saying, but the various reactions of Americans to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa verged on the hysterical and even delusional. There was a case here in Maine of a parent group becoming enraged when they learned a school employee traveled to Texas where there had been one (1) case of Ebola miles away from the location where this person stayed. The parents demanded the staff member be kept away from the school. There were other bits of silliness in our state but the national press honed in on the one involving our governor, who locked horns with a determined nurse who refused an unnecessary quarantine. The Huffingtion Post not only takes my home state’s governor to task in this retrospective about the Ebola scare but also takes a swipe at my alma mater and various other otherwise sensible folks who lost their heads for a time. Huff Po notes that Ebola unfortunately arrived at the peak of the political cycle, causing it to become a tool for those who probably did know better but preferred to pretend otherwise. This episode makes for a good real life study of mob panic that, thankfully, had no justification, at least in this country.


3 thoughts on “Diseased Minds

  1. I think the British response was much more realistic and controlled. There was no panic about it, merely tighter security which is obviously justifiable. Even the newspapers didn’t try to sensationalise it. This was well written, I’ve followed and ill be sure to check out some of your other posts. I’m a fellow writer myself and would love to get your feedback on some of my posts if you have time. I’m working on a novel currently and I post short stories on my blog. If not, thanks anyway, have fun writing and keep it up 🙂

  2. The scare and irrational reactions continue. One of my co-workers is currently on a Mission venture to Nigeria and confided in me she was nervous about Ebola, but would go anyway. I banged my head against the wall, as I tried to explain to her we have had more recent outbreaks in the US than Nigeria has, but got nowhere.

  3. Some of the panic came from the general health illiteracy of folks in the US, including a lack of understanding about basic epidemiology and statistical probability. I had a close-up view of these elements when I worked with CDC on a study of H1N1 vaccination practices in Maine. Also, some ignorance of geography came into play, as people who merely set foot on the continent of Africa were suspect.

    Ironically, I might be one of the few people anyone knows in the US who is connected to someone who died of Ebola (an acquaintance of my parents dating back to their missionary days in Liberia). Back when this person died, very few people in the US had even heard of Ebola (though I knew of it from my own interest in population health). Since then, it has grabbed the imaginations of many in the US. It is a spectacular and gruesome disease, which is one reason it sparked such fear, but one whose preferred conditions are not common in this country (and, as soimarriedanafrican notes, are not even present everywhere in Africa).

    One of the pleas that went out during the heyday of the Ebola scare in the US came from the CDC and hit home to me after the flu project: If you really want to do something about a disease that actually kills a lot of Americans every year (unlike Ebola) get your flu shot!

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