I am scared of a lot of things. Tornadoes. Spiders. Venomous anything. I am also scared of Ebola. Terrified, really. I am more scared of Ebola than pretty much any other disease, including things I might actually have a slight chance of getting, like breast cancer or AIDS. I blame my sixth grade science teacher, who described the movie Outbreak to us in class one day.
Now, of course, this is totally irrational. As a scientist I realize this. So, let’s all calm down and talk about some facts. Since my epidemiological knowledge is limited to some undergrad courses in biology and the mechanics of the game Pandemic, we’ll turn to the experts.
Tara C. Smith is a microbiologist/epidemiologist at Kent State University, which is just a short car trip away for me here in Northeast Ohio, and she also writes about infectious diseases for media, books, etc. She has written a very nice piece describing why we in the US should not be panicking about the possibility of an Ebola outbreak here, because a lot of public “knowledge” about Ebola is exaggerated or incomplete. Please read it, and take some deep calming breaths with me:
Also, here are my suggestions for naming the diseases in Pandemic:
Yellow: AIDS (Ebola, yellow fever)
Blue: Spanish Influenza (Bubonic plague, Swine flu)
Red: Bird flu (SARS)