Are you afraid of contracting Ebola? If so, you are not alone – millions of Americans are now suffering from “Fearbola.”
The media is bombarding us with reports such as this one from the Inquisitr of more and more people exposed to the deadly virus, suspected cases in several states, and doomsday theories from “experts” who may or may not know what they are talking about. It seems that fact and fiction are beginning to run together, and nobody knows what to believe anymore.
So it is no wonder that Fearbola, or the irrational fear of Ebola, is sweeping the nation like a bad flu epidemic. Market Watch reports that sales of hand sanitizers and other disinfectants are up, and that stocks for companies producing protective gear such as hazmat suits are already rising as investors anticipate sales.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that nearly two-thirds of Americans fear a widespread outbreak of the disease, despite reassurance from health officials that our modern health-care and disease-surveillance systems would prevent an outbreak like the devastating one in West Africa.
According to CNN’s Mel Robbins, Fearbola is an “airborne disease that spreads through conversation, entering through your ears.” Robbins says that Fearbola is so contagious that some victims can contract it by just seeing images of Ebola.
“Once inside your body, Fearbola attacks the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking. It starts with a low-grade concern about the two health care workers diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas and slowly builds into fear of a widespread epidemic in the United States. Almost half of the people affected by Fear-bola are also “very” or “somewhat” worried they themselves will catch the virus.”
Fearbola is a dangerous disease she says, because it leads to garbled decision making and illusions. People suffering from Fearbola favor travel bans, think Ebola is an airborne virus, and think that the diagnosis of the second nurse in Dallas with Ebola means that they are living in a real-life “Outbreak” movie.
CNBC reports that Fearbola could have an effect on the economy also, causing people to avoid travel and even shopping out of fear of coming in contact with the Ebola virus.
Citing the hysteria that swept the nation after 911 terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare shortly after, Goldman economist Kris Dawsey said that transportation and commerce could be adversely affected if Fearbola escalates.
“In the aftermath of the attacks, demand for air travel temporarily dried up, while some people reportedly preferred to avoid crouwded public places such as subway stations, shopping malls, etc. At the time, concerns were further exacerbated by limited-scale anthrax attacks unrelated to the September 11th attacks themselves. If the Ebola situation was to worsen much more than expected, it is possible to imagine that a similar atmosphere of fear could arise.”
Should Americans be afraid?
Steven Hobfall, a clinical psychologist at Rush University Medical Center addresses patients Fearbola on a regular basis. He told the Chicago Tribune that people should educate themselves about the disease, but remain rational.
“A certain amount of anxiety is normal because this undermines our safety. To seek information is rational; to be shutting oneself off at home is not.”
Do you have Fearbola? Or do you think that America’s extreme fear of Ebola is overblown?
[Image via MarketWatch]