“Ebola is not present on our campus.”
Firm. Clear. And to the point. There were some very strong points made in Slippery Rock University’s Ebola message to campus, including a clear description of the Ebola outbreak in the world and an explanation of how Ebola is spread.
The email stated, “It’s important that you understand that you cannot contract EVD through the air, through water or food. You can only get Ebola from direct contact with the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola or contact with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or infected animals.”
Great! The science communicator in me was so satisfied. As this states, you need direct contact with blood or body fluids or to share contaminated objects into your blood in order to contract Ebola. The email even cited the CDC and referred people to their site for more information.
But, after this success, the email just got silly when it suggested that to protect yourself and others, the most important thing to do is to get a flu shot. It also suggested that to promote health one should wash their hands, eat a balanced diet, get rest, exercise and stay home if you are sick.
I’m all about healthy choices and know all about how vaccines work. I also think there is no bad time to promote these things, but it came across as deceptive in this otherwise relevant and concise email to plug getting a flu shot and eating health while discussing Ebola. Because of the nature to which Ebola is spread, and the fact that it is an entirely different disease from influenza, a flu vaccine will do next to NOTHING to protect you against Ebola. To present such material in the email is preying on the ignorance and fear of those reading and moving forward a completely different agenda, no matter how well-meaning and beneficial it may be to the world. This is consistent with a pattern of unrelated topics from the health center, where you are offered a Band-Aid and asked when your last period was on every visit, no matter why you’re there.
Here are five relevant tips for not contracting Ebola:
1. Stay away from the vomit of a person who has Ebola.
2. If you decide to illegally shoot up heroin, don’t share needles with someone who is vomiting and oozing blood externally or could be internally. (Though in no way do I suggest or condone shooting up heroin in the first place.)
3. Do not eat the feces of anyone from Texas.
4. Do not have sexual relations with anyone you believe to have Ebola.
5. If you do expect to come into contact with someone with Ebola or their vomit, saliva, urine, feces or semen, be sure that you’re taking necessary precautions to not come into direct contact and decontaminating anything that does before coming into contact with it.
If you think you may have contracted Ebola from one of the ways listed above, don’t let anyone do any of these things with you. Also, notify the health center immediately.
Joking aside, Ebola is a very serious disease that has affected many people worldwide. I’m optimistic that the issue is being addressed and that this will be behind us in the near future, but we cannot let our ignorance and fear lead us to do anything (even if that thing is good for us). Decisions should be made on the basis of understanding and with confidence.