Do you remember the last time you saw a heart-warming story on the news? The highly rated news show “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” has a daily segment called “Making a Difference,” where they spotlight people doing great things in the nation. This is usually the only time you see a feel good news story throughout the entirety of the show.
Media outlets have discovered that nothing gets ratings quite like breaking news about subjects that scare the common people. Ebola is just another example.
Ebola is a devastating disease. Once it has been contracted, only the utmost attention by highly trained doctors can prevent death. It is also going through the largest epidemic in world history but when asking the common individual, that will be about the depth of their knowledge. We see the tag line to the story, see how devastating the disease is and realize that we want to do anything to avoid contracting this terrible disease but how hard is it to get Ebola?
Ebola is currently ravaging Western Africa, with three countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea each reporting over 1,900 cases, Liberia reporting over 6,500. Outside of Africa, there have been a total of 12 cases, only five in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. The world powers are not blind to the detriments of Ebola and are taking necessary precautions by containing those that are showing symptoms. Anyone flying into the U.S. from Western Africa is being submitted to a deeper screening at those American airports and on top of all that, every scientist being interviewed on television, along with the CDC, has made it abundantly clear that it is a very difficult disease to transmit.
“Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids of a person already showing symptoms of Ebola,” says a CDC report. “Ebola is not spread through the air, water, food or mosquitoes.”
So even if someone has Ebola, unless they are deep into showing feverish symptoms and extreme exhaustion and unless they also happen to be in a position to swap bodily fluids with you, they cannot transmit the disease to you.
In short, the media is doing it’s due diligence in giving the news to the public about the dangers of Ebola. Shouldn’t they be stressing the importance of how it’s transmitted? Shouldn’t they keep it out of the top story lines every day until there is new news to report?
Jon Stewart, the host of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, summed it up effectively a few weeks ago. “[The media has] drunk so much doomsday juice that they’re even projecting panic onto people who are not panicking. It’s almost like they’re crossing their fingers for an outbreak. The problem is the media was infected with Ebola fear a long time ago and now that it’s had its time to incubate, they’re showing extreme symptoms.”
Stay educated, stay calm and question whatever might frighten you on the news. For now, Ebola is about as hard to contract as Bieber Fever.