The Ebola hemorrhagic fever has been in the news a lot lately. The bulk of my knowledge about the Ebola virus comes from Laurie Garrett's 1994 opus The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance . In other words, it's dated but fairly good. Dr Alison Campbell has a blog post about "alternative medicine" grifters descending vulture-like on people fearing a pandemic, while Vixen Strangely has a post about Donald F. Trump criticizing the CDC for bringing two Americans who have contracted Ebola to Atlanta's Emory University for treatment.
Personally, I think that the transportation of the two American Ebola patients back to the states was a smart move- not only will the two receive a level of care they would not be able to receive in Liberia (though a promising treatment was administered while they were still there), but the scientists and medical doctors at the Center for Disease Control will be better able to study this horrific viral infection. The news reports surrounding the outbreak tend to be sensationalized with regard to the lethality rate of the virus and the ease of transmission. The conspiracy-minded right wing fringehas even insinuated that the Obama administration is responsible for bringing Ebola to the States for some nefarious reason (and the linked post is from the "mainstream" conservative site Forbes). Even more stupidly, at least one Republican congressman has raised the specter of young Central American refugees carrying Ebola to the U.S., even though Ebola is unknown in the Western Hemisphere.. though there are hemorrhagic fevers endemic to Latin America.
"Tropical" diseases such as Ebola and Dengue are largely neglected by the big pharmaceutical corporations because they occur in countries populated by "those" people- poor folks in the developing world aren't profitable to treat, unlike rich old guys with erectile dysfunction. The CDC now has an invaluable opportunity to study the virus under ideal conditions and will hopefully act to contain the outbreak in West Africa.
I would exhort everyone to read Laurie Garrett's chapter on Ebola, even though it is dated. One major factor in the Ebola outbreak in Central Africa that she covered was the re-use of needles for inoculations and the administration of medicine. Another major factor was traditional funerary practices, in which the families of the decedents would prepare the bodies for burial without gloves or other protective gear, thus leaving them open to exposure. It's a heartbreaking read... one ruefully chuckles as beleagured nuns interpret the order to establish a cordon sanitaire as an instruction to use tape to delineate the precincts of an Ebola ward. Still, it's better to be educated about the disease than to rely on the sensationalism of the TV news.
Here in the NY Metro area, we had an Ebola scare which proved to be false. While the chances that there will be an outbreak here in the States is slim, it is not nonexistent. With study of the virus, and improved therapeutic measures, Ebola may cease to be as pants-wettingly scary as it is now, but we require cooler heads when we approach the subject.
A couple of days ago, I head a promotional blurb on NPR for a segment about how media consumers should approach with "Breaking News" segments. I didn't bother listening to the segment- when it comes to listening to "Breaking News" items, my advice is "don't do it".