Outbreak of Deadly Epidemic: Fear

Do fears of an ebola outbreak warrant waiving legal rights?

In the United States, fear is spreading faster than the virus itself. Initially, Ebola plagued only its site of origin, West Africa. Before it was deemed a worldwide outbreak, non-infected countries released statements of support, ultimately lacking the medical and financial aid needed. When the virus struck closer to home, being declared an "international health emergency," fear soared and suddenly the world was on its knees, willing to do anything to avoid the illness. (Epidemic of Ignorance, USA Today)

Ebola is classified as a hemorrhagic fever, indicated by excessive bleeding, vomiting, and severe gastrointestinal distress. (Ebola, dictionary.reference). Though fatal once contracted, the virus is hardly contagious. Only contracted through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, the probability of a widespread outbreak in the United States is highly unlikely (Information about Ebola, Center For Disease Control). Government officials, respected doctors, and researchers continue to be confident in being able to successfully contain the illness (There Won't be an Ebola Outbreak in the US, CNBC).

"Since the outbreak, there has been heightened awareness and we have been in the preparation phase. We have a highly developed public health surveillance system and multiple facilities in which we can safely care for infected individuals using the proper precautions," Dr. Joseph Fair, Virologist, in an interview with CNBC

Fear: The Aftermath

With this being said, a society should hope to be free of irrational reactions to a disease an average person would fail to contract. A poorly timed arrival of fear overwhelmed the American society's mind, releasing all common, logical sense. Displayed numerous times: A wedding store closing in Ohio due to a visit from a suspect ebola victim, Multiple school closings in Texas and Cleveland due only to overwhelming amounts of fear. None of these occurrences were medically necessary. (Fox, Ebola Fear Factor, NBC)

When Maine nurse, Kaci Hickox traveled to West Africa to aid those affected, her return to the United States was less than cordial. Hickox was greeted by a quarantine tent forced upon her after a faulty temperature reading. However, a second reading was done 15 minutes later, conducted by a different thermometer, resulting in a perfectly average reading. Medical experts deemed Hickox symptom free, commenting that fevers take hours to discontinue--not minutes. When Hickox arrived in her hometown, she was informed by government officials that she would be quarantined for 21 days, for precautionary reasons. Kaci Hickox responded by publicly defying the order and proceeded to take a casual bike ride, materializing fear in the community. Several community member commented that they wished she would be forcibly quarantined by professionals, even though she was deemed ebola-free. After the 21 day ignorance of personal rights was ended, her Maine community annexed both her and her boyfriend, causing her to move from the state. (Nurse who Fought Maine Ebola Quarantine, Cavaliere, Reuters)

The nation has come to suppressing the right to conduct one's own life. Nurse Hickox, serves as an example of what many leaders want medical professionals to do: travel to infected countries and stop the spread of the virus. After performing live-saving work, Hickox's return should have celebrate, however, she states that she felt as though she was being treated by a criminal (Ebola Nurse, Reuters)

Propaganda has been a self-destructive weapon leading to almost certain deviation from progress. Today, with the issue of ebola, the nation is experiencing abnormal fears,

heightened, no doubt, by social media.

Though it would be nice to admit that fear epidemic has just recently sprouted into exsistance, however, its roots date back to prehistoric times. The irony is the constant reminder of the purpose of history courses taught in today's schools: To incubate progress by learning from our mistakes.

Paranoia fatalities, prevalent in our country's history, never cease to exist. Occurrences such as; the Red Scare, the HIV/AIDS's epidemic in the 80's, the divide between races, and the Salem Witch Hunts are all varved in our nation's history.

Hysteria feeds on the ever prevelant propaganda, which fortunately has been well documented. The Arthur Miller play exploring both McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Hunt, The Crucible, is perhaps one of the most familiar pieces of literature on the topic. The book follows a Puritan, New England society ruined by deceit, spread by hysteria. Arguably, the "villain" of the play the play is Abigail Williams, a fiery young woman who lies about local townspeople bewitching her. The town leaps into hysteria, believing the claims, murdering anyone who is suspected. As the play continues, the more hysteria overruns the town. The Salem society loses sight of what is true and plausible, playing into the fear by perpetuating the lies.

In too deep, a Salem society member exclaims "I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem—-vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!" (Miller, p.73) A society's insanity rises when we allow ourselves to be ruled by fear of the unknown. This fear, in most cases tend not to be justified. As in the case of the Salem Witch Hunt, the community's ordeal was supported by the childish need for revenge. In situations like ebola, people's fear of disruption leads to the focus being turned to the widespread paranoia rather than bringing the illness to a halt.

Being apathetic to everyone but oneself, is a flaw evrty person deals with. The situation that Kaci Hickox was locked into highlights this. As stated before, though deemed Ebola free, her community annexed her and her country's officials supported the fear. In The Crucible, a similar, more drastic situation occured. " the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up." (Miller,Act Four, the Crucible) Said by one of the town's most respected leaders. He casts doubt on what Salem has become, murdering community members due to unjust fear. He had realized he had made a grave mistake, with people paying the toll of death.

The Crucible's protaganist, John Proctor, a man who's death benefitted the town greatly. Proctor did not allow himself to fall into the fear that everybody else had. When accused, it was protocol to save oneself by identifying another of witchcraft. This, of course deepened the severity of the issue. Proctor's death, his refusal to admit to the falsified accusation, pushed the town into progress. Proctor's gallant words toward the end, exemplify his actions. " Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" (Miller, Act Four, The Crucible)

Kaci Hickox lies parallel to Proctor. Her fight against the imposed, unjust quarantine gave some prospective on the situation. Highlighting that media propoganda of most situations can have a detremental effect.

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur, The Crucible, Penguin, 1952, print

Ebola, reference dictionary, digital

Maggie Fox, Ebola Fear Factor, NBC News, October 17, 2014

Nurse who Fought Maine Ebola Quarantine, Reuters, September, 2014

There Won't be an Ebola Outbreak in US, CBS, 2014, televised interview

cdc.gov, Center For Disease Control, September 2014. December, 2014

Stephanie Meyer

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