There’s a new buzzword to add to the list of things not to shout in an airport: Ebola. Ebola has taken not only the nation but the world by storm since it began in West Africa, with what researchers believe was a single person who contracted the virus from fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family. Because these bats infected other animals through close contact in the wild, all it took was one person to eat an infected animal or touch an infected carcass for the disease to take root in the human population. That single person has now infected nearly 9,000 people just in West Africa.
While Ebola is survivable if detected early and its symptoms are treated, it is claiming so many lives because of its quick transfer ability. And the longer the virus can propagate, the more it will adapt, and the harder developing a vaccine will become. Luckily, Ebola only “spreads 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,” according to the World Health Organization. Bodily fluid contamination and transfer is not a huge problem in the United States thanks to our sewage systems, health codes, water dispersion, etc. which many poorer nations lack.
But, regardless of where Ebola came from and what it’s doing, it’s here and it demands action. Unfortunately, our country’s lack of priorities and desire to push unrelated agendas has created confusion about the disease. There was no immediate response to the threat of it coming into America, and now it is here. Many conservative politicians have blamed President Obama. While the president’s actions concerning Ebola, like sending 3,000 troops to West Africa to help “control” the outbreak, are questionable, Ebola itself is not his fault.
We can sit here and criticize the president all we want, but that won’t help. Blaming Ebola on our country’s obsession with political correctness, despite the outrageous and foolish concern over the need to be so politically correct, also will not help. Rush Limbaugh said last week on his radio show that, “The impulse might be to isolate these countries. If we do that, if we isolate, see, this is this political correctness crap. It’s not fair that they are the ones that have Ebola. It would be unfair and it would be profiling and it would be stigmatizing if we told them that they have more Ebola than anybody else. So we can’t isolate these countries.” Limbaugh does not understand the inability to isolate a country in the 21st century.
Since when did Ebola and political correctness have any relation? People like Limbaugh are taking advantage of the confusion to push their own agendas instead of actually addressing the problem. Disease is not the next political battleground. Whether or not you are in favor of the travel sanctions or health screenings or deployment of troops, one thing is for sure: The focus must be Ebola and the protection of American citizens from it.
Reasonable precautions should be taken. The government should warn Americans against travel to infected areas. But medical personnel will need to travel. Banning business travel will depress the African economies, making it harder to obtain medical treatment. All travelers from affected areas must be screened as they enter the U.S. The medical community must develop and rigorously practice containment procedures. The media should keep the public informed, but not panicked. The medical community will be most effective and the media will be the most influential in handling the issues of Ebola. When government gets involved, unrelated agendas get pushed. We need a priority check. Only once we have the country’s priorities in check — one of most important being the protection of the life, liberty, and happiness of American citizens, which an Ebola outbreak could severely compromise — can we take the reasonable precautions necessary to contain Ebola.