With the arrival of two aid workers who contracted the deadly and highly-contagious Ebola virus in West Africa to the CDC in Atlanta—and one quarantined patient being evaluated for infection in New York City—pandemic paranoia has reached a (no pun intended) fever pitch.
A debate erupted into the narrative regarding the public-health implications of transporting individuals infected with the virus to American soil for the first time, and the potential for exposure. Plot lines from Outbreak and Contagion are rattling around in the anxious brains of the population and fueling Hollywood-scenario fears.
Thankfully, the condition of the two Americans being treated with an experimental drug seems to be improving; and media-sensationalism and online-conspiracies aside, the individuals receiving care in the United States has brought the massive Ebola epidemic in West Africa to the forefront of the national conversation.
The virus has already infected over 1,000 people in the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, making it the largest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history. A section of the world improperly-equipped to deal with such a substantial medical-crisis, there was a disturbing lack of attention being paid to a situation that threatens to turn catastrophic. So while millions of Americans are irrationally freaking out over the virus’ stateside arrival, the spotlight is now focused on resolving the emergency in West Africa, as it should be.
The continued improvement of the two Americans who received the experimental vaccine is terrific news, and potentially tide-changing for suffers in West Africa. It took a national uproar to generate mainstream attention to the situation across the globe, and with the encouraging news from this trial treatment, hopefully it begins to subside.