Focus on Ebola: Dordt students react

Megan Kaiser – Staff Writerhealth

It seems that one cannot go from one side of the campus to the other without reading or hearing about Ebola. There are plenty of contradicting articles that have bogged down our minds, so there may be a split feeling of fear or annoyance. Either way, we may not be fully sure of how to react.

All students that were asked about it had heard about the disease, but many were not completely sure of what it is. “I know that it is a disease that is rampant in Africa,” said sophomore Ross Van Gaalen, “not to say that it isn’t a big deal, but for me personally, I’m not concerned about Ebola.”

The Ebola virus first appeared in African countries in 1976 in two large and separate outbreaks. Many are not aware that this is not the first occurrence. Scientists are not completely sure how it begins in a human being, but it is speculated that it begins when a human being comes in contact with an infected animal. It is transmitted through wild animals, mainly primates, and spreads through the sharing of bodily fluids. It is not, however, spread through casual contact.

“If anyone from either the Dordt or Sioux Center community showed signs of Ebola, they would be transferred to a hospital that is able to meet the needs of Ebola patients. There have been two Ebola patients hospitalized in Omaha,” said Beth Baas, director of Campus Health Services.

Of course the first travel-associated case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States is going to cause a huge stir, but remember the past outbreaks of SARS, H1N1 and H1N5. H1N1, otherwise known as the swine flu – was just as concerning as Ebola is now.

There is also concern with our fellow students that are studying overseas in areas closer to the outbreak. “Our first response starts with each of us being responsible in our travel choices.  The CDC has recommended that there be no non-essential travel to areas affected by the Ebola virus,” said Baas, “study abroad programs are considered non-essential and for that reason there will be no students sent to West Africa for any study abroad experience. We will continue to monitor the CDC travel advisories for all areas of travel for study abroad programs.”

“Ebola doesn’t exist in my world because I haven’t heard about it much in Korea,” said Kim DeVries, a junior Dordt student who is currently studying abroad in South Korea.  “Just yesterday I read an article about how a passenger on a plane sneezed and told people he had Ebola. People in the plastic suits had board the plane, but it turned out to be a hoax. That’s about all I know.”

For the time being, there is nothing we to do but make the smartest choices we can establish for ourselves regarding our health and safety. You cannot get it through air, you cannot get it through water and you cannot get it through food. Just remember, America has wonderful medical facilities plus highly advanced equipment. We have the tools to contain it.

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