Monday, October 20, 2014

Calm Down About Ebola, Please

(Did I never hit send on this? Huh. Well, fixing that now.)

So, it looks like there are a ton of people scared about ebola. And let's be clear, ebola is an awful, terrible thing to actually get. And if you are in Africa, it is a very real threat, as you surely do not need me to tell you from here in North America.

But if you ARE in North America, or Europe, or anywhere developed, the threat of getting ebola is far, far less than some of you are afraid of. The healthcare systems, whatever their cost, are just plain better than Africa's. Far better. Only a few people in the US have actually been infected, with one death at this point. A tragic loss that death is, but only one. The thing is, ebola kills very quickly, and because it kills quickly, it doesn't get very much time to infect new victims. And it takes more than your average flu or cold to actually infect someone, though the two infect at roughly the same rate: the seasonal flu sufferer infects about 1.2-1.5 new people on average; an ebola sufferer infects 1.5-2 people on average. (Chicken pox does 3-17 people.)

National Geographic has a handy FAQ for you. Read it, and then calm down, okay? This is pretty much confined to the hospital system, and only a few specific hospitals, and the people most likely to get infected are the doctors putting their butts on the front lines to treat this. You just walking around will be fine. Relax.

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