9 Quotes From Ebola Experts That Confirm Your Fears are Completely Unfounded
Yes, Ebola is an incredibly frightening virus. This is reflective not just of the tense, panicky coverage the 2014 outbreak has received, but of the grisly reality of what it means to have Ebola — a hemorrhagic fever, vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea, and often death. But it's vitally important to keep everything in perspective, especially when up against your fears. To this point, a number of experts are battling the Ebola panic, and it's a reassuring reminder to keep a cool head about things.. Getting freaked out about Ebola doesn't help anything in itself, after all.
By now, you've probably heard of how this highly lethal virus is transmitted: it can carry from person to person through contact with infected bodily fluids. And thanks to the aforementioned symptoms, people in the full throes of Ebola are prone to producing such fluids. But that's still a core of the medical community's understanding of the virus — simply occupying the same space as a symptomatic person doesn't guarantee you'll fall ill, much less being around a pre-symptomatic person.
It's not an airborne virus, and that's a very fortunate thing. But that's not the only reason we should all take a deep breath and a step back — here are ten different quotes on Ebola, by people who know about these things.
1. "Confident That There Won't Be an Outbreak"
Let's start off with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
We feel confident that there won't be an outbreak. The people who were around the patient are now being identified and traced by the CDC and by the state health authorities. ... you get people, you identify them, and you observe and monitor them daily to determine if they develop symptoms If they do, then you put them under isolation to determine if, in fact, they are infected. And if you do that properly, you can shut down any outbreak.
2. Think Before You Ban
Renowned surgeon and physician Atul Gawande tackled a prominent panic-induced policy suggestion in The New Yorker Friday — the calls for travel bans to be imposed, a favorite idea of Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
No travel ban or quarantine will seal a country completely. Even if travel could be reduced by eighty per cent—itself a feat—models predict that new transmissions would be delayed only a few weeks. Worse, it would only drive an increase in the number of cases at the source. Health-care workers who have fallen ill would not be able to get out for treatment, and the international health personnel needed to quell the outbreak would no longer be able to go in.
3. "They Should Do Their Homework"
There's a media aspect to all this as well, obviously, and it was on that point that PBS Science Correspondent Miles O'Brien laid waste to scaremongering about Ebola's presence in America.
It borders on irresponsibility when people get on television and start talking that way when they should know better. They should do their homework, and they should report in a responsible manner. Unfortunately, it’s a very competitive business, the business we’re in, and there is a perception that by hyping up this threat, you draw people’s attention.
4. "Math and History" Say to Calm Down
Arizona State University's Gerardo-Chowell-Puente says that the spread of Ebola is slower than past outbreaks, and should be containable.
As a mathematical epidemiologist, I can tell you that — despite the publicity over the first U.S. case of Ebola, in Dallas — there is some good news in the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa: Ebola is not spreading nearly as fast as some scourges of the past.
5. "No Doubt" That We'll Control Ebola Within the U.S.
Tom Freiden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, believes that the American health care system is ready and able to thwart Ebola.
The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely throughout this country. There’s no doubt in my mind, we will stop it here.
6. "A Very Sophisticated City"
The city of Dallas, Texas has been where the worrisome news of Ebola in the U.S. has been centered. Texas Health Director David Lakey tried to calm citizen's nerves about the situation, praising the preparedness of the city to halt the virus' spread.
This is a very sophisticated city, a very sophisticated hospital ... and the chances of it being spread are very, very scarce.
7. Moving the Fatality Rate Down
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, told CNBC that given how international aid groups have been able to slow Ebola in West Africa, the prospects for doing even better in the U.S. look strong.
The supportive care that we're able to provide in the United States is so much better, so much more sophisticated, than what's available in West Africa. ... So we can move that needle of survival way down. Even Doctors Without Borders in West Africa are moving the fatality rate from 50 percent down to 30 percent—I bet we can do substantially better than that here.
8. American Health Care is Not Like Liberia
The editorial staff of Bloomberg View got out ahead of the potential for widespread fear back on Oct. 1, with an article titled "Ebola in America? Don't Worry About It." While not worrying at all might be a little beyond my capacity, they highlight core realities about health care in West Africa that are central to the dilemma.
The primary cause of this enormous Ebola outbreak has been inadequate health care. The virus itself is no more transmissible or deadly than it was in any previous outbreak. In Nigeria, for example, health-care workers were able to bring the disease under control relatively quickly. They identified the problem early and got patients into hospitals equipped with protective gear and other critical supplies.
9. "No Cause for Concern"
Peter Hotez, a professor at Baylor University and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, told USA Today that there's really not much to worry about, given Ebola's strictly symptomatic transmission.
There is no cause for concern. The Ebola virus is not easily transmitted from person to person, and we have an outstanding infrastructure in place both to contain the virus and trace contacts. There will not be an Ebola epidemic in the United States.