Ebola and The US: the Media Blitz and the Real Impact

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the US, died Wednesday, October 7 while receiving treatment at the Dallas based Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan was admitted on September 28 after being sent away two days earlier due to miscommunication between hospital staff. Duncan had been in treatment for about a week during which time his condition continued to deteriorate. The disease has now taken more than 3,400 lives and has infected more than 7,000 people. Almost all of these deaths have occurred in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, which together have a population of over 21 million people.

While the disease continues to spread in Africa, fear has mounted through out the US in part due to the continued media coverage on most major networks and in numerous different outlets. Round the clock coverage of the story may seem to reorient the crisis, making it an eminent threat to Americans. The reality infectious disease experts portray is very different. The CDC has stated that, “Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population.” They have also stated that all hospitals that conform to CDC infection control recommendation can safely manage Ebola cases.

Though the disease itself is not a credible threat to Americans in general, the Ebola outbreak is garnering the attention of the US government in the realm of containing and treating the infection in the outbreak zones. US military personnel have been deployed to help construct temporary health clinics and train local health professionals primarily in Liberia. 300 US troops are currently working in the region and as many as 4,000 may be deployed. While servicemen and women will be working in the heart of the Ebola outbreak, most will be working as engineers and logistical support. Those that are in contact with patients and patient samples are well trained in handling infections and dangerous material according to the military officials.

“Those people are trained to the very highest level of operating in a nuclear, biological, and chemical arena, and they are tested continually,” said Gen. David Rodriguez, head of US Command in Africa.

Read More – The story that went viral: Are the media scaremongering on Ebola? (Fox News, Howard Schultz), First Ebola patient diagnosed in US dies (KCTV, RNN Staff), US military personnel on Ebola mission to handle blood samples (Fox News, Justin Fishel)

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Originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, Millan is a senior at the George Washington University studying Biological Anthropology.

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