I was sitting in a restaurant recently finishing my meal, when another patron came up to me and said, “Well you don’t look too concerned about Ebola.” Besides the fact that I am not very used to total strangers coming up to me and starting a discussion while I am eating, it was a very strange way to start a conversation. Not to mention the fact, I am used to being the one who people watches. Now I know I am being watched.
But getting back to the comment from the stranger. I know that I would have much preferred to have been asked how I liked my meal, or perhaps if I knew where the restroom was. But my concern about Ebola?
Long summary short, I have many health issues, very complicated, and one of those deals with my immunological deficiencies. In other words, it is very easy for me to contract things such as the flu, pneumonia, and yes, I would have to assume Ebola. I can also come down with Chicken Pox, SARS, bird flu, swine flu, strep throat, measles, mumps, and the list goes on, all from exposure to others. As you can see though, I do not live in a plastic bubble afraid of what I might come down with (as opposed to those it is a life threatening situation and are required to live in that manner unfortunately).
I am also going to throw in my experience working with biohazards.
I saw signs like this frequently during my career in medical research. And in spite of my immunity issues, and against the advice from my doctors to avoid this kind of exposure, it was a job that I took great personal pride in doing, because ultimately, I believed I was taking part in finding cures for various and many serious diseases. I was willing to do this job because I knew the precautions that I took to avoid contamination and exposure. There was various personal protective equipment that had to be worn, and strict protocol for disinfecting equipment and myself prior to entering public thoroughfares. You see, I was not just complying for the well being of everyone else, but for my own health, I needed to do it as well. But if all protocols are followed, and the proper personal protection equipment is worn, then the risk of contamination is near zero. So even in an environment that had very high risk for my health, I know that I was confident in the work that I performed.
So getting back to the odd introduction, I am more than aware of the word Ebola. I am also aware of the “politics” of this awful disease as it is being hyped up by conservative and liberal news networks and the cartoonish fantasy network of Fox news. Just like weather forecasters who strike fear into viewers with storms of the century and millennium, nowhere in my childhood and early adulthood (for the sake of math, the 1970’s, 1980’s and mid 1990’s) did I see the fear struck into viewers that caused mad rushes to grocery stores to empty shelves of food, and snow shovels and snow blowers from every hardware store. The fact is, the media only cares about ratings, and the only way to get ratings is to shock and scare us. It is up to us not to buy into these actions. And the woman was right, I am not concerned about Ebola.
When I adopted my first daughter, my family had to deal with the deadly SARS virus. In fact, that virus actually stopped the adoption process all together for China. But as the illness was deemed under control, not eliminated, we were allowed to travel. When we went to adopt our second daughter, we were then dealing with deadly “bird flu”. There was no delay in the adoption process this time, nor any restrictions. Then several years ago, we had to deal with deadly “swine flu.” It was this particular deadly virus that forced my doctors to push harder than ever to get a vaccine that I did not want to get.
But the common flu kills more people every year, than Ebola has claimed victims. Where is the outrage and fear to isolate patients and people exposed to the common flu? How about parents who knowingly send kids to school already sick and contagious with whooping cough risking mass exposure to the school population? Recently a PA courthouse was shut down for two days to deal with an infestation of bed bugs brought in by a dangerous mom hiding the critters in her stroller used for her child. There are many other examples of people being irresponsible with risks to other people’s lives. Where is the fear mongering by the opinions of news networks just trying to get ratings?
I am by no means making light of a deadly disease. And it is deadly if contracted and not treated properly. But it is not our president who is responsible for the spread of Ebola. It is not our governors responsible for the spread of Ebola. If it spreads, it is because of irresponsible workers or selfish people who do not want to inconvenience their leisure activities. And even the same networks who fueled the fire of fear have representatives “eating their own” stating that the hyping of the spread of Ebola needs to stop (Fox’s Shepard Smith).
Over a decade ago, the biggest attack on our nation’s soil prompted many to question whether it would ever be safe to fly again. And the majority of us never gave it a thought, regardless of the many opinionated newscasts who constantly urged us to be afraid, be very afraid.
So again, this time our country faces yet another attack, this time biological, and the media has successfully scared many into believing that they will contract Ebola.
I have enough on my plate to worry about. I must travel on Monday and Tuesday inside a flying canister trapped with other passengers. I am certain that I will hear at least one person cough. It could even be me as the dry air has a tendency to cause this. But I will not be wearing a “surgical mask” (for the record, this will never prevent you from catching something that is airborne because it does not seal completely around your mouth and nose – and for men with facial hair, you cannot even wear something that will work, a respirator, because it cannot seal over your facial hair.).
I am going to arrive and return, and without Ebola or having been exposed to it. No, I am not concerned about Ebola. Thank you for asking.