Ebola: Fact Vs. Fiction


What is the truth on the Ebola virus?

Abby Cecka, Features Writer

The outbreak of the Ebola virus first struck West Africa in February 2014, and since then, it’s been in the news more and more. It seems like you can’t turn on the TV without hearing new developments about the potentially deadly virus. However, not everything that is heard through the media, and even through the  halls at EHS, is accurate.

One of the most common misunderstandings about the illness is how it spreads. Ebola is not considered to be a highly contagious disease, because it can’t be spread through the air. A person can’t catch Ebola from casual contact, either. Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, or through contaminated needles that have come in contact with an infected person. In addition, a person is only contagious while showing symptoms of Ebola — during the incubation period of up to 21 days, a potentially infected person can’t spread the disease.

Another misconception of the disease is how prevalent it really is. Ebola has killed almost 5,000 in West Africa, but out of just 8 confirmed cases in the U.S., there has been one death. In an interview with KARE11, Dr. Michael Osterholm stated, “There will never be a community-wide outbreak in a developed world country, it just won’t happen.”

People might be overreacting, but it’s still deadly.”

— Yazhini Solayappan

This view is supported by many who are convinced that Ebola won’t become something big in the U.S. Among them is EHS freshman Yazhini Solayappan. “I think they’re overreacting a lot.” she said. “I feel like it’s pretty rare. The media is covering it a lot, and that’s making people freak out.” In response to the growing number of ‘Ebola jokes’ circulating the school, she said, “They should take it a little more seriously. People might be overreacting, but it’s still deadly.”

Ebola is a deadly virus, and, while it may never happen on a wide scale in the U.S., it is still important to know your facts about the disease. The symptoms of Ebola include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. The initial symptoms are then xtfollowed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding. Once symptoms begin, patients are treated with supportive care which consists mainly of intravenous fluids containing electrolytes to combat the dehydration that Ebola frequently experience. In the United States, a few of the Ebola patients recieved an experimental drug called ZMapp, which eradicated the virus. With supportive care, some  Ebola patients can recover, although complications including vision problems and muscle and joint pain or weakness can remain.

Ebola is a serious and potentially deadly virus. It’s important not to let misconceptions about the disease scare people unnecessarily. The best defense against any illness is staying educated and being aware. By separating Ebola facts from fiction, we can eliminate some of the fear that accompanies this disease.