Editorials

Ebola news should dampen U.S. hysteria

This home is under quarantine because of the Ebola virus in Port Loko, Sierra Leone.
This home is under quarantine because of the Ebola virus in Port Loko, Sierra Leone. The Associated Press

Mistakes have been made. That much is indisputable.

But in the case of the Ebola virus vs. the United States, one of the largest mistakes has been a general loss of perspective.

Citizens of Dallas, along with the rest of us, should be comforted and enlightened by the news that no one in the circle of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died from the disease in a Texas hospital, contracted Ebola. At least 43 people who had contact with Duncan, including his fiancee, have been released from monitoring and pronounced Ebola-free.

In the meantime, two nurses who helped care for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas are stabilizing at hospitals in Maryland and Atlanta. Ashoka Mupko, a freelance photographer who had been infected by the virus while covering the health crisis in Liberia, was scheduled to walk out of an Omaha hospital on Wednesday after recovering.

Elsewhere, a nurse in Madrid who was the first Ebola patient reported in the West tested negative for the disease this week. And Nigeria, which had responded swiftly to a case of Ebola in July, successfully blocked a potentially devastating outbreak within its borders.

The news collectively should help quiet the irrational panic that has gripped some quarters of the public realm. Nonstop cable-news coverage and knee-jerk political gamesmanship have done nothing but divert the nation’s attention from the proper task of attacking the Ebola virus at the source.

It’s true that the news is grim and the number of Ebola victims in the West Africa nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana is predicted to rise exponentially.

But politicians and others who are calling for travel bans on West Africans and U.S. border closings should shut up for a change and listen to the health experts, who supply good reasons why those positions are wholly counter-productive.

Furthermore, public officials should do their homework before suggesting, as Missouri Sen. Kurt Schaefer did Wednesday in a hearing, that Ebola might be transmittable by air. All Reliable research of recent decades contradicts that idea.

The Ebola virus is a true calamity in West Africa. Vigilance, patience, perspective and medical expertise, not politics, will ensure that it will not become so in the United States.

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