Ebola has dominated news headlines over the past few weeks. Since late September three cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the U.S.: one Liberian man who has since passed away from Ebola and two nurses that had cared for him who are slowly recovering.
American news media has exploded with stories, facts, and headlines about Ebola, asking “How could these people have contracted Ebola?” or “Are the rest of us at risk?” Congress has begun investigating the United States’ response to Ebola. Considering how difficult it is for Ebola to spread and how few cases the U.S. has experienced, I feel that the response from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal government has been appropriate.
According to the World Health Organization’s website, Ebola spreads via direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids through broken skin or a mucous membrane. People are not infectious until they begin showing symptoms of Ebola. The people most at risk are the health care workers who care for Ebola patients, and people living in close proximity with people who are infected. The biggest reason Ebola spreads so easily in places like West Africa is because they lack advanced hospitals and enough trained doctors and medical personnel.
Since the reports of the second and third Ebola case the CDC has released new, stricter guidelines on how to care for Ebola patients and how to wear and remove protective gear. They updated already-in-place guidelines, which were less strict and allowed for some flexibility. The CDC has also released new guidance for airlines to screen passengers for possible Ebola symptoms.
Many lawmakers and citizens have called for the government to ban all air-traffic from infected countries. Thus far the Obama administration has not put that ban in place. Many health experts agree, claiming that by banning commercial air traffic, more people would use less regulated means of traveling.
Land borders in many of these infected countries are incredibly porous. By banning commercial air traffic, more and more people would use these unwatched means of travel, raising the chance Ebola could spread. Banning air traffic would severely hurt our ability to stop the outbreak at its source.
President Barack Obama has spoken out publicly, telling people to keep calm, and reassuring them that while they should be careful and clean, they are not at any real risk of contracting Ebola. In one of his weekly video addresses to the American public, President Obama said “What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America. This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear.”
This is exactly what a president should do when facing a situation like this. With only three cases originating within the U.S, and five cases that have been brought over and treated, it is clear that there is not an Ebola outbreak in the United States. When you consider how difficult it is to spread in a society with an advanced health care system, and good hygiene, the government’s response has been enough to keep the public safe, and react to any new cases that may come up.