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Korobov: Should our soldiers fight Ebola?

BY MICHAEL KOROBOV | NOVEMBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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It seems that talk of the Ebola outbreak is just as contagious as the virus itself. Countries all over the globe are racing to find ways to protect their citizens from the deadly disease.

Some, however, have brushed off these concerns as an overreaction. A CNN commentator, Mel Robbins, has even gone so far as to label the Ebola hysteria as “Fear-bola.” She believes this is caused by Americans being irrationally scared of the virus.

While there may truth in the fact that emotional fear is often spurred by a snowball effect in a population, the Ebola virus is very dangerous, and Americans have a right to be worried.

Transmitted through blood or bodily fluids, the virus has claimed more than 5,000 lives so far, mostly in western Africa. When infected, the fatality rate for victims is usually around 70 percent.

There are also great concerns that the disease could mutate and become transmittable through the air, which would mean just a cough or a sneeze would be enough for infection. The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has called it “the greatest concern I’ve ever had in my 40-year public-health career.”

If the Ebola virus made a stronger presence in the United States, there could be potential for a disaster.

To counter this, countries including Canada and Australia have instituted travel restrictions on people coming from countries with the highest numbers of Ebola victims. Despite this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refused to institute a travel ban to the countries most affected by Ebola. Instead, we have sent our own troops into the affected regions. The goal was a noble one — to provide treatment centers and train local health providers.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to see the irony in the situation. At the same time as some countries closed themselves in, the United States decided to send our best to the frontlines.

There have been many volunteers and organizations that have provided help to the western African countries that are suffering with Ebola outbreaks. These efforts are noble and should be applauded. For example, a group called the International Medical Corps has opened up six Ebola treatment units.

That being said, it’s difficult to see morally how it can be right to send our own troops in harm’s way. The soldiers coming back must now be isolated to check if they develop any symptoms. Considering that these men and women have put their lives on the line to protect our country, it doesn’t seem right that they now have to worry about this faceless threat.


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