Ebola in US: what’s fact and what’s fiction

Photo by Brenda Lin

When I saw a live news stream last week from WSBTV of an ambulance carrying carrying Amber Vinson from the airport to Emory University Hospital, all I could think was that this type of coverage had gone too far.

Vinson is the nurse from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas who helped attempt to treat Thomas Eric Duncan and also contracted the disease.

Duncan is the only patient infected with Ebola in the US to pass away after he was first misdiagnosed at a Dallas area hospital.

I don’t really consider that kind of story as anything other than scare tactics that are completely unnecessary but all too common right now.

This isn’t the first time something like this has come up in the media; it happened in the 1980s with the AIDS epidemic at the time, with various strains of Influenza through the years and now it’s happening with Ebola in West Africa and around the world.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these are terrible infectious diseases that have affected countless lives but they should not be used as a tool to spread fear.

Instead of educating the public, many of the larger media outlets have taken to scaring them instead with headlines from CNN calling Ebola the “ISIS of Bio-Agents” or from anchors at Fox News describing the infectious disease as a “terror agent”. My question is what’s the goal of this type coverage because it is certainly not to inform.

What about the realities of the situation instead of trying to incite fear in the US. What about the people in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have been and are still being severely affected by this infectious disease. According to the World Health Organization, at least 4,877 people have died from this Ebola Outbreak in West Africa and at least 9,936 cases of the disease had been recorded as of October 19.

Large media outlets need to move beyond shooting for ratings by covering non-stories around the clock. Responsibility should be taken as they are the ones who are clearly being listened to and there is a need for a shift from sensationalizing a terrible disease that is affecting thousands to educating those who don’t know as to how they can help those in need.

Help can come in many forms, whether that be through making donations through organizations like Americares or UNICEF. But these and other sustainable solutions to this real problem are much more important than scaring the public with fiction over the facts.

The fact remains that this is an terrible infectious virus. The big reason there has been such a big outbreak in areas some areas in West Africa is because of the lack of available resources. Many simply cannot handle what comes with this disease at this point in time and could use real aid. This is not the case in the US.