What You Should Be Reading About Ebola

If you've been shrouding yourself in blissful ignorance because the Ebola outbreak that has ravaged West Africa and claimed more than 3,000 lives seemed a world away, you're out of excuses. Ebola is now on American soil, and the best way to deal with that is to, well, be informed about it. So, we've prepared a required reading list of essential Ebola articles, essays, and books for you to study. Like any form of protection — even if this is just a protection from flat-out panic — it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Since the Centers For Disease Control confirmed the U.S.'s first case of Ebola on Tuesday, the situation has been spiraling to terrifying proportions, with Texas public health officials extending the group of possibly exposed individuals to 100, including children from four different schools. And while the CDC's director, Thomas Frieden, has confidently assured Americans that our health officials are prepared for Ebola, it's entirely possible for the virus to travel further on U.S. soil.

If you've generally stayed away from the gruesome news thus far, start with some basic refreshers on Ebola before diving into more in-depth texts. Once you've made your way through our reading list, you should not only have a thorough grasp on the disease, but you'll know exactly what to do should — God forbid — the situation get any worse.

Ebola 101: Basic Info on the Disease

For a primer on Ebola, head to the websites of more well-known health organizations, like the World Health Organization's fact sheet on Ebola or the CDC's Ebola page. There you can learn exactly what Ebola is, how it's transmitted, what the symptoms are, how to prevent infection, what treatments or vaccines are available, and how to control it. The CDC also offers a comprehensive Ebola FAQ page.

Everything You Need to Know About the Current Outbreak

John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Once you have a solid understanding of what Ebola is as a disease, it'll be much easier to comprehend the current outbreak. There are many informative articles and essays online that give you the full timeline of events and key developments. BBC has been tracking the current outbreak and continuously updates its coverage. This CNN article provides background on the current outbreak while answering the burning questions that most people are wondering. The New York Times offers a useful timeline and traces how Ebola arrived in the U.S., and USA Today gives a more specific timeline of Ebola in America.

In-Depth Reading

John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Now that you're caught up to speed about the current outbreak, you may want to go even deeper. There are plenty of scholarly essays, personal accounts, and more-specialized articles on Ebola. This New Yorker article offers a glimpse inside the Ebola wards of West Africa, this Huffington Post piece describes in detail just what the Ebola virus does to your body, and Time did a report on the virus-proof protective suits that healthcare workers wear to treat patients.

The New England Journal of Medicine published an in-depth personal account titled "Ebola in a Stew of Fear," which offers Dr. Gregg Mitman's experience in Liberia contextualized by the history of the disease. And for even more comprehensive personal accounts, Barry S. Hewlett's Ebola, Culture and Politics: The Anthropology of an Emerging Disease provides in-depth case studies and examines how the disease affects the overall culture and politics of African countries.

And if you're looking for the flat-out panic, you can read the definitive book about Ebola: The Hot Zone.