The Ebola virus outbreak in Africa is only getting worse – that much is clear (see Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Stricken Region – Inquisitr). What’s also clear is that Ebola is a terrifying disease with a fatality rate between 50 and 90 percent, depending on whose numbers you choose to believe. What’s not clear is whether or not Ebola is going to break out of Africa (or if it already has – see Ebola: Ohio Woman Being Tested For Deadly Virus – Inquisitr).
The fact of the matter is this: If you live outside of Africa (or, even in Africa, for that matter), contracting the Ebola virus is much harder than you might believe, unless you deliberately choose to ignore health warning and government alerts, especially those concerning eating certain foods.
The Ebola virus spreads from animals to humans via the consumption of “bushmeat” – that is, meat from wild animals such as bats and monkeys, according to Breitbart.
The problem is, for tens of millions of Africans, bushmeat is a way of life.
As one Guinea native puts it:
“[Governments and relief organizations] want to ban our traditions that we have observed for generations. Animal husbandry is not widespread here because bush meat is easily available. Banning bush meat means a new way of life, which is unrealistic.”
Oddly enough, there is a market for bushmeat in the U.S., according to NBC News. And theoretically, at least, Ebola-tainted bushmeat could make it to our streets. But unless you’re actively seeking it out, you’re not going to encounter it, barring a complete and catastrophic failure of our food inspection and distribution system.
Close Physical Contact
Once the Ebola virus has jumped from animals to humans via the consumption of bushmeat, it spreads through transmission of blood and other body fluids from one person to the next, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In other words, those most at risk for contracting the Ebola virus are people who are in close contact with people who already have the Ebola virus – health care workers, families, etc.
This is a problem in West Africa for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with fear, superstition and some local burial customs. This is not a problem (in general) in the First World for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that governments and healthcare workers are on the lookout for Ebola and its symptoms, and mourners don’t generally throw their arms around the body of the dead.
Still, close contact with other humans is unavoidable, and it’s possible that worst-case scenario could develop. Say, for example, you’re seated next to an Ebola patient on a plane. Again, unlikely, unless you’re traveling to or from Africa. Once a person infected with the Ebola virus in the U.S. starts showing symptoms, he or she is going to be quarantined. So, the odds that you’re going to sit next to an Ebola patient at the doctor’s office, at work, at church, etc. are practically nil.
Deadly Infectious Disease You Should Be Worrying About
So if you’re now convinced that you’re not going to get Ebola, but you still enjoy considering the possibility of getting a horrifying contagious disease, you’re in luck: there are plenty here in the U.S.
If dread tropical viruses are a concern of yours, there’s a deadly, mosquito-borne illness that’s already considered an epidemic in Puerto Rico, and has been making the rounds in Florida: Chikungunya, which causes joint pain that can last for decades and is deadly in people with compromised immune systems.
Failing that, there’s also Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both deadly in people with weak immune systems. Bubonic Plague, the disease that wiped out over a third of the population of Europe, is also alive and well in the U.S. – a few people contract it in the U.S. each year, according to ABC.
The Big Daddy of them all, though, and the infectious disease that has U.S. health officials shaking in their boots is not Ebola. It’s MRSA (pictured above). Dubbed a “superbug” by the Mayo Clinic, it’s deadly, it’s spreading, it’s resistant to antibiotics and it’s evolving before our very eyes. And the place where you’re most likely to get it is in the hospital.
The best way to avoid any infectious disease, like Ebola, is to practice good hand washing and other precautions. Other steps you can take; don’t travel to disease-ridden areas like Africa, don’t touch the bodies of dead loved ones, avoid close contact with people who appear to be sick, and in the case of Ebola specifically; avoid bushmeat.
Are you afraid that the Ebola virus will spread in the U.S.? Let us know what you think in the Comments.
[ Feature Image Via kfm.co.ug / epa]