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The Media Has Failed the Public on Ebola

ebola virus particles

Ebola virus particles

I feel the only conclusion that can be reached from a new CBS News poll is that the media as a whole has done a terrible job explaining to public the relatively tiny danger Ebola poses to this country and how best to deal with it.

The poll found that 80 percent want Americans to quarantine U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from West Africa even if they show no symptoms. Only 17 percent think such people should be allowed to enter. This is crazy on two levels.

First, West Africa is a huge place and only a relatively small part of it actually has a problem with Ebola. Putting significant impediments on travel to West African countries with no cases of Ebola would result in noticeable economic damage and hardship for no reason at all.

More importantly this is a stupid, unnecessary and likely counter-productive move. You will find almost no infectious disease expert who would support this move. The fears of an Ebola epidemic in this country are completely overblown. It is not easy to catch and in a country with modern plumbing and health care there is little risk of it spreading.

In addition, adopting a blanket quarantine will make it much less likely that health care workers will travel to affected areas. The best way to protect everyone in the world would be to try to quickly eliminate the disease at its source. Hampering efforts to do so could actually increase the chances of it spreading to new countries.

We need less disaster porn on the news and more information.

CommunityFDL Action

The Media Has Failed the Public on Ebola

ebola virus particles

Ebola virus particles

I feel the only conclusion that can be reached from a new CBS News poll is that the media as a whole has done a terrible job explaining to public the relatively tiny danger Ebola poses to this country and how best to deal with it.

The poll found that 80 percent want Americans to quarantine U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from West Africa even if they show no symptoms. Only 17 percent think such people should be allowed to enter. This is crazy on two levels.

First, West Africa is a huge place and only a relatively small part of it actually has a problem with Ebola. Putting significant impediments on travel to West African countries with no cases of Ebola would result in noticeable economic damage and hardship for no reason at all.

More importantly this is a stupid, unnecessary and likely counter-productive move. You will find almost no infectious disease expert who would support this move. The fears of an Ebola epidemic in this country are completely overblown. It is not easy to catch and in a country with modern plumbing and health care there is little risk of it spreading.

In addition, adopting a blanket quarantine will make it much less likely that health care workers will travel to affected areas. The best way to protect everyone in the world would be to try to quickly eliminate the disease at its source. Hampering efforts to do so could actually increase the chances of it spreading to new countries.

We need less disaster porn on the news and more information.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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