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Pressing or Paranoid?: Talking About Ebola

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The spread of Ebola has been a topic of mounting concern in recent months. In some regions, Ebola has been curtailed or completely eradicated: Senegal saw a single case in August, and in Nigeria, 19 cases were reported, the first in July, but both countries have since been declared Ebola-free.

Still, the virus’s spread remains completely unchecked in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and Médécins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) are making increasingly pessimistic predictions of Ebola’s death toll in the future. Many westerners exposed to the disease, especially foreign healthcare workers (whom WHO estimates to constitute 10% of fatalities to Ebola) return home seeking medical care, and fears abound that such returns allow Ebola a chance to spread further.

In light of these incidents, the prospects of Ebola outbreaks in the west appear quite high. This has resulted high media coverage, and many conversations around Carleton’s campus.

Charlie Imhoff ’17

“There have been four [outbreaks]. I actually read the Wikipedia article yesterday, so I’m kind of an expert…. I don’t think we should really be worrying about it in the states. I think a lot of media outlets are making it a bigger deal than it needs to be, because that’s what they make money off of. I think a lot of people are panicked about it right now because there have been a few cases in the States and the media has been kind of excited about that. I think it’s been in Africa for a very long time, and I don’t think there is a ton we can do by just going to Africa. We don’t have a cure for it or a vaccine for it, I just don’t think we should be freaking out about it as much as we are.”

Lucy Wasserburg ’15

“I’m kind of a weird health nut, and I remember when I first saw that there was a potential case in the US I freaked out and was tracking it very, very closely. And shortly after that I realized it was kind of absurd that that was my concern because I think that what I came to realize very quickly was that it is unlikely that it is going to get super far in the states, and it will just show the major discrepancies between the health care here and in West Africa. And I felt kind of guilty for my initial ignorance in being so concerned with what the reaction in the states was going to be when clearly that should not have been my major worry.”

Jackson Bahn ’16

“I feel like people are frustrated with the way the outbreak has been handled in the media and therefore it has become a joking topic around campus. This is more about the media’s ability than the outbreak itself.”

Sam Braslow ’15

“From what I have followed, it has been unfortunate that the outbreak has been embroiled in politics but outside of that it has been handled relatively well and I’m not worried.

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