UCF students react to Ebola epidemic
With Ebola concerns growing in the United States, UCF students are doing their part to prevent hysteria by remaining calm and collected until there is a legitimate cause for alarm.
On Oct. 18, President Barack Obama spoke directly to the public about Ebola, what is being done to prevent it and what citizens need to know about doing their part to keep it from spreading.
"What we are seeing now is not an outbreak or an epidemic in America," Obama said. "This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear."
Jessica Reyes, a sophomore pre-clinical health sciences major, said that, currently, Ebola in the U.S. is not really a cause for concern because there have only been a couple cases so far.
"Even though the disease itself is a cause for concern, I think it has been blown out of proportion," Reyes said.
With a population of more than 300 million people, there have been only four cases of Ebola in the U.S., Obama said. One case was of Thomas Duncan who, after contracting the disease in Liberia, was transferred to the U.S. where he later died on Oct. 8. The other two cases were of nurses who cared for Duncan and were infected while they were treating him, but are now receiving medical attention. The most recent occurrence involved a doctor in New York who caught the virus after treating patients in Guinea.
UCF Health Services posted a link from to their website on Oct. 22 from the Florida Department of Health, which provided an informative definition of the Ebola virus. According to the article, "People only become contagious after they begin to have symptoms," which Obama also stated in his speech.
"Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch," Obama said. "The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms."
Darren Cadet, a senior psychology major, said she is not doing anything to prevent herself from catching Ebola.
"I'm just living my life," she said.
Cadet said she is not afraid of the virus, and doesn't think the rest of the country should be either. She said that people should be aware that it is not airborne, and if it were to become an epidemic in this country, vaccinations would be the best way to fix the issue.
Reyes said she thinks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should continue to quarantine those who have been in contact with someone who show symptoms. She said she is taking the same precautions she would with the flu, including washing her hands. She also plans on getting the flu vaccination soon.
UCF Health Services on campus provides free flu vaccinations on the dates listed on their website to decrease students' chances of catching the virus. It also has a list of facts about Ebola to inform students and faculty about the disease to avoid hysteria. One such fact: Ebola cannot be transferred from contact with air, water or food.
Health Services also posted a press release with information about the disease and the necessary precautions the CDC is taking to prevent an epidemic in the U.S.
"This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in the release. "It will take many months, and it won't be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days."
Kylee Crate, a sophomore studying biomedical sciences, said she believes the necessary precautions are being taken to avoid a serious outbreak.
"I'm afraid of it, but I don't think I'll catch it," Crate said. "Obviously it is a serious disease, and people should be aware of its severity, but I don't see it becoming a huge epidemic in the US."
Obama also talked about ways to keep the U.S. safe.
"The best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source, before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain," Obama said. "Trying to seal off a whole region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse."
New screening measures are now in place in airports receiving travelers from West African countries.
For more information on Ebola and UCF protocol visit hs.sdes.ucf.edu/.