THE FEAR OF EBOLA

In light of the salt-water cure rumoured yesterday, at least two persons have been feared killed and 20 others hospitalised in various hospitals in Plateau State after consuming excessive quantity of salt and bitter kola to prevent Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) attack. The two, were rushed to the hospital by their family members after they suddenly collapsed in the morning, having consumed too much of salt over-night. They later died of high blood pressure in the hospitals. According to medical personnel in the hospitals where the other patients are currently taking treatment in Jos, some developed ulcer, while others stool profusely, having consumed the table salt in excess — Thisday newspaper.

Though the message which was meant to be a prank was misunderstood, it should be noted that if you got the message, it is because someone cares about you but if you did acted on it, it is one of the two reasons:

1. Your knowledge of science is not broad.

Its true salt has antiseptic properties, it heals sores, wounds and irritations but its just irrational to think it would cure the virus. This can be helped by reading science news and blogs. See afrosci.wordpress.com

2. Your fear for the virus is mis-directed.

When most of us wonder what the risk of something is, we focus too much on the probability part, the odds, the statistical chance of that bad thing happening. It then becomes a problem because we ponder on how the outcome feels and not how likely it is.

As Paul Slovic, a pioneer in the research of the psychology of risk perception, has put it, “Risk is a feeling.” And the fear of Ebola is a perfect example. The news is full of dramatic stories about the outbreak in western Africa of this scary disease — “The Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History”. In the WHO information page about Ebola here’s how they describe the symptoms;
“…a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.”

Terrible suffering. No control. No hope. How does that feel? Undoubtedly pretty scary. Might it relieve your fears at all to know that the odds that you will get infected is infinitesimal? To get infested, you would have to come into direct contact with the infectious bodily fluids and get those fluids on an opening in your skin.

We all can try to vaccinate ourselves against that fear and we should.

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