UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston students don’t buy in to government Ebola hype

Source, dransmission, and damage of Ebola virus

From West Africa to Dallas to New York, the fear of the potential spread of the Ebola virus is capturing headlines across the country and the world. Ebola has been the dominant trend on almost every social media outlet. Yet it is very unlikely that Ebola will spread in the U.S.

Nonetheless, with this growing apprehension of the possibility of contracting Ebola, several political and health officials have issued statements to appease the public anxiety.

President Barack Obama, in his weekly address, called on Americans to remain calm in the midst of the increasingly widespread fear about Ebola here in the U.S. “We can’t give in to hysteria or fear, because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need,” Obama said. “If we’re guided by science — the facts, not fear — then I am absolutely confident we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States.”

The truth is that Ebola is not a virus that is wafting through the air, ensnaring victims indiscriminately.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola can be only be transmitted through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

In this way, “Ebola is very difficult to contract and is spread only by close contact with the bodily fluids of a very sick person. It is not airborne or spread by coughing, sneezing, or sharing food,” wrote Richard Arnold, Director of General Medicine to University Health Services, in an email to the UMass Boston community.

Several other UMass Boston community members express similar views with Arnold. A Liberian native, Tucker Gaye, who still has relatives living in Liberia, said the last thing Americans might want to worry about is the spread of Ebola in the U.S.. “I don’t think Massachusetts should worry about it because unlike West Africa, Massachusetts [alone] has over 100 hospitals, and more than five of them are nationality rank as America’s top hospitals,” he said.

Gaye explained that one of the main reasons behind the spread of the virus in his own homeland is due to the lack of proper sanitation. “Affected patients can’t receive treatment for there are no well-equipped hospitals,” he said. “Massachusetts has more than double the amount of hospitals that the entire country of Liberia has.”

Along the same lines, Daphcar Terrane, a senior majoring in Exercise and Health Science, echoed Gaye, saying that  Ebola is unlikely to spread in United States because health care professionals here are better equipped. “We have all the technologies needed to deal with those affected,” said Terrane. “Our health care professionals are way better equipped.” She added that if Ebola starts spreading in the U.S. the health care professionals here can and will do something to contain it or at least limit its damages.

But Terrance believes that those who have recently visited West Africa, or those who are entering the U.S from West Africa should be quarantined for at least 21 days, until they show no sign or symptoms of Ebola.

UMass Boston International Relations Professor, Luis Jimenez, said the fear of Ebola in the U.S. is irrational. “There are a lot issues that are happening in the world, and here in America, that should have concerned us more than Ebola,” he said. Jimenez added that if we are concerned for those who are affected in West Africa then that is a good thing — implying that then Americans will be more likely to provide them with assistance. Jimenez went on to insist that American concern about Ebola spreading in the U.S. is unnecessary because the virus is unlikely to spread here.

“I think that the media is hyping it. I think the government is hyping it,” said Ezra Brown, a senior double majoring in Political Science and Theater.

“The Government is hyping Ebola because they can easily get people distracted from what needs to be done and other issues,” Brown said. “The media is hyping it because it is a big money making strategy; they want people to pay attention to them,” he added.

Brown went on to say that although he recognized that there are incredibly destructive viruses, like the Spanish flu that killed one-third of Americans in the early 1900’s, Ebola is not one of them.

He invites anyone from UMass Boston community who might have fear about Ebola to calm down and think critically. “If you wake up tomorrow and hear one doctor in New York has contracted the virus after traveling from West Africa, you do not have to worry about catching it,” he said. “But if you wake up and hear that hundreds in New York catch the virus, then you might have to worry about it.”

Brown added there are multiple other issues that America should be more concerned about now such homelessness, wealth inequality, poverty, alcoholism, depression, suicide etc.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick also issued a statement saying Ebola is “not a cause for alarm” in Massachusetts.

Patrick added that “According to the Center of Disease Control, we as a Commonwealth remain at a low risk for Ebola.”

The University Health Services also encourages any student who has been to West Africa recently, have plans to travel there, have had any possible exposure to Ebola, or have any concerns at all to contact them directly at 617-287-5660.