Thursday, May 7, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

What’s scary about Ebola, reasons not to fear it

By
From page A12 | August 10, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The United States’ top disease detective calls Ebola a “painful, dreadful, merciless virus.”

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak in West Africa an international emergency, killing more than 900 people and spreading.

That’s scary and serious. But it also cries out for context.

AIDS alone takes more than a million lives per year in Africa — a thousand times the toll of this Ebola outbreak so far.

Lung infections such as pneumonia are close behind as the No. 2 killer. Malaria and diarrhea claim hundreds of thousands of African children each year.

In the United States, where heart attacks and cancer are the biggest killers, the risk of contracting the Ebola virus is close to zero.

Americans fretting about their own health would be better off focusing on getting a flu shot this fall. Flu is blamed for about 24,000 U.S. deaths per year.

To put the Ebola threat in perspective, here are some reasons to be concerned about the outbreak, and reasons not to fear it:

___

WHY IT’S SCARY

There is no cure for Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

More than half of people infected in this outbreak have died. Death rates in some past outbreaks reached 90 percent.

It’s a cruel end that comes within days. Patients grow feverish and weak, suffering through body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and internal bleeding, sometimes bleeding from the nose and ears.

The damage can spiral far beyond the patients themselves.

Because it’s spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick patients, Ebola takes an especially harsh toll on doctors and nurses, already in short supply in areas of Africa hit by the disease.

Outbreaks spark fear and panic.

Health workers and clinics have come under attack from residents, who sometimes blame foreign doctors for the deaths. People with from Ebola or other illnesses may fear going to a hospital, or may be shunned by friends and neighbors.

Two of the worst-hit countries — Liberia and Sierra Leone — sent troops to quarantine areas with Ebola cases. The aim was to stop the disease’s spread but the action also created hardship for many residents.

___

WHERE IT IS

The outbreak began in Guinea in March before spreading to neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. A traveler recently carried it farther, to Nigeria, leading to a few cases in the giant city of Lagos.

Ebola emerged in 1976. It has been confirmed in 10 African nations, but never before in the region of West Africa.

Lack of experience with the disease there has contributed to its spread. So has a shortage of medical personnel and supplies, widespread poverty, and political instability.

Sierra Leone still is recovering from a decade of civil war in which children were forced into fighting. Liberia, originally founded by freed American slaves, also endured civil war in the 1990s. Guinea is trying to establish a young and fragile democracy.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, boasts great oil wealth but most of its people are poor. The government is battling Islamic militants in the north who have killed thousands of people and kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

This outbreak has proved more difficult to control than previous ones because the disease is crossing national borders, and is spreading in more urban areas.

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicts that within a few weeks,Ebola will sicken more people than all previous occurrences combined. Already more than 1,700 cases have been reported.

Global health officials say it will take months to fully contain the outbreak, even if all goes as well as can be hoped.

___

REASONS NOT TO BE AFRAID

Ebola is devastating for those it affects. But most people don’t need to fear it. Why?

—Ebola doesn’t spread easily, the way a cold virus or the flu does. It is only spread by direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, sweat and urine. Family members have contracted it by caring for their relatives or handling an infected body as part of burial practices. People aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, Frieden said. Symptoms may not appear until 21 days after exposure.

“People should not be afraid of casual exposure on a subway or an airplane,” said Dr. Robert Black, professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University.

—Health officials around the developed world know how to stop Ebola. Frieden described tried-and-true measures: find and isolate all possible patients, track down people they may have exposed, and ensure strict infection-control procedures while caring for patients. Every past outbreak of Ebola has been brought under control.

The CDC is sending at least 50 staff members to West Africa to help fight the disease, while more than 200 work on the problem from the agency’s headquarters in Atlanta. The WHO is urging nations worldwide to send money and resources to help.

—It’s true that Ebola could be carried into the United States by a traveler, possibly putting family members or health care workers at risk. It’s never happened before. But if the disease does show up in the U.S., Frieden said, doctors and hospitals know how to contain it quickly.

“We are confident that a large Ebola outbreak in the United States will not occur,” Frieden told a congressional hearing Thursday.

___

OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT

Ebola’s toll is minuscule compared with other diseases that killing millions of people.

“The difference is the diseases that do kill a lot of people — malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia — they cause their problems over time,” Black said. “They’re not generally epidemic. They’re not the kind of sudden burst of disease and death that creates fear like this.”

The common diseases have far lower mortality rates. They kill so many people because such huge numbers are infected.

In comparison, Ebola is manageable.

“The order of magnitude of the resources to control Ebola in small communities in three or four countries is very small compared to controlling malaria in all of Asia and Africa,” Black said. “I don’t at all think we should hold back on the resources to control Ebola, but we need more resources to control these major killers of children and adults that we’re making too little effort against.”

___

Associated Press writers Lauran Neergaard in Washington, Marcia Chen in London, and Michael Stobbe in New York contributed to this report.

___

Online:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Anti DeuchAugust 10, 2014 - 9:55 pm

    What the article did not say is that illegal immigrants are a major risk factor for the transmission of the Ebola virus.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Garamendi votes against medical marijuana measure

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

 
 
Travis CO posts water conservation measures

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1

Armijo students complete financial scholars program

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Poker benefit in Fairfield proves big draw

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Air Force OSI looking for alleged deserter

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Railroad crossings to close for maintenance

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Free naturalization information session set in Fairfield

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Solano Land Trust offers yoga hike

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Police investigate shootings in Vallejo

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
 
 
Vacaville police investigate traffic fatality

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: May 5, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: May 5, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

 
.

Living

Today in history: Thursday, May 7, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: May 7,2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

 
Miranda Lambert becomes Country Living’s first cover girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Harris Faulkner considered rising star at Fox

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Geena Davis launches Arkansas film fest for women, diversity

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Neon Trees drummer Elaine Bradley expecting baby girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Smashing Pumpkins frontman brings awareness to vets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Vikings combine to no-hit Falcons

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
Cory Peacock leads Mustangs to 7-0 win in finale over Armijo

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Ian Kennedy, Padres beat Giants 9-1 to snap home win streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Pass first? Point guards look to show you can score, win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Chase Elliott gets NAPA sponsorship on No. 24 car in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Floyd Mayweather’s ex-girlfriend sues boxer for defamation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Decathlete pulls daughter’s tooth with javelin throw

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Spain’s soccer federation suspends matches from May 16

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Manny Pacquiao has shoulder surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Race organizers shake up May schedule in Indianapolis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

LeBron’s 33 lead Cavaliers past Bulls 106-91 in Game 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sandusky appeal seeks to have molestation case thrown out

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kyrgios knocks Federer out of 2nd round at Madrid Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
McIlroy, Spieth linked closer now at Players Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Top WNBA players use new leverage to demand trades, sit out

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Lawsuit accuses 49ers’ Brooks of groping unconscious woman

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NASCAR appeals officer upholds penalties against RCR

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jockey Powers and gelding Billy Kelly elected to racing HOF

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL finds Patriots employees probably deflated balls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Johnson denies he allowed Earnhardt to win Talladega

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

.

Business

Study: Top tech firms bypassing Asian workers for exec jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
GAO: Gov’t waste of natural gas costing taxpayers millions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

Walter Jeter Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics