What others say: Real Ebola crisis is in West Africa

  • Wednesday, October 15, 2014 4:44pm
  • Opinion

The United States seems to be suffering from extreme exposure to Ebola — not to the virus itself but to the viral speculation about the danger it poses to Americans. It’s time to calm down.

Ebola is an intrinsically frightening disease. It’s a terrible way to die, and that naturally heightens fears about contracting the disease.

But so far, only one person has died of the disease in the United States, a man who traveled here from Liberia after contracting Ebola in his home country.

The number could rise. Several Americans have been exposed to the disease and are under close watch by health authorities.

But all indications are that the United States is fully equipped to treat those who get Ebola and stop the spread of the disease before it becomes anything close to an epidemic. We have the doctors, the health facilities, the isolation rooms, the protocols to limit contact with patients by health workers and the basic equipment needed to keep them safe.

The real crisis is in Africa, particularly the three West African countries where the disease is quickly spreading – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The death toll as of Tuesday was nearly 4,500 people from about 9,000 cases of infection, according to the World Health Organization.

But the situation could grow much worse. WHO officials warn that the death rate among those with the disease has increased from half to nearly 70 percent, and that there could be 10,000 cases a week within two months.

If Americans want to prevent Ebola from coming here, the best way to do that is to help battle the disease at its epicenter in west Africa. The three countries where the epidemic is raging have almost no chance of stopping the spread of the disease without outside help.

We need to be concerned about Ebola but not simply about the possibility that it might immigrate to the United States. It is both a humanitarian and strategic priority to help Africa contain and halt this epidemic and to help save the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people there.

— The Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina,

Oct. 14

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