The not-so-hot zone

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I am sure we all have recently seen someone post online about either traveling by plane or having to go to the doctor to which another person must make the comment, “Watch out for Ebola!” or “You must have Ebola!”

And while some people seem to be taking the issue lightly, many more Americans seem to be in a panic.

In a recent Gallup poll of more than 1,000 Americans, a fifth of them said they were legitimately worried they would contract the disease.

Sure, I would be panicking, too, if I lived in West Africa where there are more than 9,000 cases of Ebola.

Those developing nations do not have the state-of-the-art medical care that we do.

Let’s start with the most critical fact about the disease. Ebola cannot be contracted through simply just being in the same vicinity as someone with the virus.

One must have contact with bodily fluids from someone with Ebola. Of course, this did not stop a Maine elementary school from putting a teacher on a 21-day leave, after she went to an education conference and just happened to stay at a hotel miles from the hospital where an Ebola patient had died.

Second, more Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from the disease so far. I think that is all that needs to be said.

While Ebola is the hot topic of today, the hysteria about the disease is the epitome of what the real epidemic is in America: fear.

Today, we teach young children that they cannot ride their bikes to the end of the street because someone might snatch them up, and police officers have to roam the halls of schools to decrease the chances of another school shooting.

I am not trying to say that these things are nothing to be worried about, because they are very real and do happen.

But instead of making people feel protected, we instill in them more fear by constantly bombarding them with the idea that these things will happen.

We run to the emergency rooms when someone has a cough or the sniffles in fear that they have contracted a rare and fatal disease, because we assume the worst possible scenario. It’s hard not to when all the news stations have been repeatedly reporting on a deadly virus that has surfaced.

We refuse to meet new people or talk to strangers on the bus or plane, because we are taught that everyone is out to get us.

In fact the last time I was on a plane, I talked to a little girl about her vacation, and the mother looked frightened that her daughter would even talk to me, a stranger.

We sit in our homes at night in paranoia, yet we have the most advanced medical care, strong security and relative peace. We have a much higher standard of living than most of the rest of the world.

Instead of putting on surgical masks  every day and avoiding others while walking down the street, we should take action to fix the real problems facing us.

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