Ignorance left me with my own Ebola scare

Ah, the joys of fall break: five days without class, scattered colors in the leaves, apple cider and Ebola.  Yes, Ebola.  After my dad carted me the hour and a half home with four of my siblings, including my screaming baby sister, one of the first things to enter the dinner table discussion was the outbreak of the hell virus from Africa.

I am in no way an expert, so take this for what it’s worth.  After talking to my parents about it, I realized my refusal to watch the news or read articles online had made me painfully ignorant.  I wanted to fix it as soon as I could, which just happened to be the night before I was getting dental work done in Erie.

I spent two hours going through different sources and figuring out who Thomas Duncan was and why he was in the U.S.  There’s still a lot of gaps in the story.  The only thing I concluded for sure was that the Texas hospital was in no way prepared to administer to him, which brings me to the news of the two infected nurses.

The second woman with a known case of Ebola flew to Cleveland the weekend before we started break.  It’s always comforting to know a 50 percent fatal virus (CDC) is practically an hour away from your school.  My mother added to my original hysteria by saying she read the nurse was at the Steelers game that weekend.  My mind was running in circles.

What if my periodontist had gone to that game? He has an office in Ashtabula — that’s closer to Cleveland, than Erie, isn’t it? What if she had just so happened to been sitting next to him and sneezed all over his face?  That’s where my worries fell apart.

According to the CDC, sneezing is not one of the symptoms.   The consensus seems to be that the first symptom is a fever, which is what the nurses who treated Duncan were monitoring themselves for.  That was the only thing I could find to reassure myself before going in for oral surgery the next day.

My dental procedure went smoothly without any mishaps, so I was satisfied.  I did find myself asking the hygienist about the office’s sanitation procedures before they started, though.  She seemed a little taken aback.  I want to work in a diagnostic hospital lab (where the first humans with Ebola contracted the disease, according to my Microbiology text) when I “grow up,” so my late night research and my current classes left me really curious.

As far as the dangers of contracting it, the CDC, NPR and WHO insist Ebola is not airborne.  Those hazmat suits they’re showing the healthcare workers in are to protect them against body fluids.

My advice? Stay home if you have a fever or nausea and stay away from anyone who complains of those ailments.  Wash your hands. Don’t share food. Don’t go to West Africa any time soon. If you’re paranoid like me, the CDC says bleach is effective in killing the virus.

I’d consider the threat at Gannon low unless anyone’s best friends with the nurse who visited Cleveland.  Besides, it just wouldn’t be practical to attend classes in a full hazmat suit.  For more information, I’d recommend cdc.gov, npr.org/health and ama-assn.org.

KELSEY GHERING

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