Ebola, "Should we be afraid?" Many are fearful judging by all the reaction. As I try to work through this issue, I reassure myself with some thoughts. Ebola is real. And, fear of this tragic disease is equally as real. Every day the threat appears to grow worse. What can we do?
Consider Some Facts:
Comparatively, statistically, & currently, this disease affects very few. According to the CDC, cancer and heart disease kill more than 1,000,000 Americans every year. The flu and pneumonia kill over 50,000 people as well every year in the United States. Ebola deaths so far in the USA; 1 . . . Chances are statistically far greater that I will contract Hepatitis C or TB rather than Ebola. Chances of dying of a lower respiratory infection in the United States are about 1 in 29. Chances of dying of Ebola in the US so far is 1 in 316,000,000.
In Africa, 2.2 million people die every year from diarrhea. When it comes to infections, over 4 million die every year in Africa from lower respiratory infections alone. A $5 vaccine could save most of these lives. In comparison, 4,000 deaths occurred from Ebola so far in Africa. This is not to minimize by any means the severity of Ebola for those affected.
At this point, evidence shows Ebola is a somewhat difficult disease to catch. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with someone infected. And, even at that, the contact needed to contract Ebola is tactile; direct contact with bodily fluids. I just flew on a flight the same week the infected nurse flew Frontiers Airlines. Am I worried of contracting Ebola? Maybe I sat next to an infected person on my flight? But, no, I am not worried. Chances are far greater of dying by falling down than Ebola.
Let's Think it Through a Bit:
Shutting the Door on the Rest of the World is, I Don't Think the Answer. Yes, it may make us feel safer. Yes, restricting travel perhaps offers some assistance in slowing the spread of Ebola; for now. However, it is impossible to control all travel. There are simply too many people in this world to keep track of their travel plans and habits. Yes, people carry diseases as they travel, but travel they will.
The Black Plague in Europe during the Middle Ages was arguably carried by sailors on merchant ships returning from the Middle East or Crimean regions. Finding a cure for Ebola is the only sure way to stop it, thereby protecting the world from its horrible consequences.
Will Hiding Help Us? Like the little girl playing hide-n-seek with hands placed over her eyes, simply closing our eyes hoping Ebola refuses us will not work. Sitting with a group of friends in Northern Minnesota a few weeks ago a friend said, "At least we are safe way up here." Just then, a person sitting at another table mentioned to her friend that she had just returned from Africa.
Helping West Africa Deal with Ebola is Our Responsibility! With our interconnected world, like it or not, Africa's Ebola problem is our problem too. Criticisms leveled against American health workers and agencies seeking to assist West Africans and others are nearsighted and self-defeating. Ebola is fact. It is here, and we must deal with Ebola or it will deal with us. Traveling to the front lines of infected areas is essential if we are to win this war. And, for me, here is the question, "If we don't deal with Ebola, who will?" No nation on the face of the planet is better equipped to tackle the Ebola issue. Like it or not, we are the hope of the Ebola world.
In the midst of America's Great Depression, millions unemployed citizens lived homeless. Newly elected president Franklin Roosevelt expounded, "The only thing we have to fear . . .is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." If we are going to be safe from Ebola, it will take the courage first to defeat Ebola. Let us all be up to the challenge.
Just My Thoughts
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.