Ebola: Fear and loathing

TWO American health workers infected with Ebola in Liberia have been brought to Atlanta to receive care. “The fact that we are taking the Ebola patients, while others from the area are fleeing to the United States, is absolutely CRAZY,” tweeted Donald Trump, a property mogul, to his 2.65m followers on August 2nd. He is not the only one in a panic. On August 4th a New York hospital said that a patient might have Ebola. “Test result looms as NYers wait in fear”, blared the headline in one local paper. (The patient turned out not to have the disease.)By August 1st about 1,600 people in three west African countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—had caught the virus and nearly 900 had died, making this the worst Ebola outbreak ever. Several cases in Nigeria add to fears that it is jumping borders. There is no treatment for the disease, which can cause uncontrollable bleeding. Even if an experimental drug given to the health workers in Atlanta is effective, it will not be widely available for years.But Ebola is not as likely to kill large numbers as virulent airborne diseases. It is caught only by direct contact with bodily fluids and each victim usually passes it to just one or two others. A SARS case generates three more, and one of measles, 12-18. How far Ebola spreads therefore depends on the actions of politicians, doctors and patients.Fear could spur the creation of a…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/international/21611151-why-panicking-makes-things-worse-fear-and-loathing?fsrc=rss|int

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