I Would Lie if I Said I Was Not Worried

I increasingly wish I had no TV and no internet.  I would feel much better without being bombarded by the scary Ebola news.

Ebola has been brewing for quite some time, but most people in Europe and America did not worry about it too much. It was all on a different continent, so we thought we were safe.  This was until Ebola claimed its first victims in Spain and in the US. Suddenly, this deadly disease is on our doorstep and we can’t just ignore it.

In a way, the situation reminds me a bit of HIV when it started making news in the 1980 (if I remember correctly).  At first, it was just a mysterious disease that claimed lives in far away countries and we assumed it was going to stay there. It didn’t take very long for HIV to spread globally. The main difference between Ebola and HIV – as I see it – is that Ebola kills much faster…

Yes, I am worried. I would lie if I said I was not.

My eldest came from school today and announced that we were going to have Ebola in the UK within the next three weeks. I have no idea where he got this from – he claims he heard it on the news. He didn’t seem to be too worried about it, but did ask whether it was possible to catch Ebola from any of the African boys in his school who went on holiday to Africa last summer. My younger one, on the other hand, is terrified that we are all going to die. In fact, quite a few people in Spain seem to be worried about the same thing – the Spanish #tag trending on Twitter #vamosamorirtodos means no less than ‘we are all going to die’. Perhaps not a mass panic situation yet, but getting dangerously close to hysteria.

I am trying to rationalise the whole thing in my head, but I am struggling a bit.

We were going to book a holiday in Spain for next summer, but we are not going to do it now. We would probably be fine, but better safe than sorry. Medical screening at airports should help identify people with active infection, but will not be able to detect those who are in an incubation phase (2-21 days) and still asymptomatic.

Bodily fluids, trough which infection may be transmitted, include sweat and apparently the virus can survive on any surface up to six hours. Shaking hands with an infected person and rubbing your eyes, or touching your mouth afterwards, can cause an infection. Probably best to avoid unnecessary handshakes for the time being.

A useful source of facts relating to the current outbreak is the World Health Organisation (WHO).  According to the WHO, the number of fatal cases of Ebola in 2014 world-wide stands at just under 3,900 so far. By comparison, data from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), indicated an estimated 31,000 excess winter deaths (from flue and complications) in England and Wales in  2012-13. Over 1,700 people were killed in road accidents in the UK in 2013 (ROSPA).  Judging by these numbers, we should be by far more worried about winter flu in the UK than Ebola.

In Sierra Leone, the disease is still on the increase, with 5 new cases reported every hour. However, there is some optimism among this gloom as USA Today reports that life in Nigeria is getting back to normal, as the country has ‘succeeded at containing Ebola’ with no new cases of the disease reported since the end of August.

All we can do on an individual level, is decide whether we are going to focus on Nigerian success in containing the virus or on Sierra Leone’s inability to stop the disease.

It’s hard, but am trying to think positive…

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