“As I’ve said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority…This is an issue about our safety,” stated President Barack Obama on Monday.
When I first heard about the Ebola outbreak, my mind instantly filled with images from The Hot Zone: A Terrifyingly True Story. Required reading for my ninth-grade biology class, the book was teeming with shocking descriptions of a scary virus that claimed its victims’ lives swiftly and painfully. My friends and I gleefully had what-if conversations: What if Ebola happened? What would you do if you got it? Would it be like Outbreak? Sadly, these hypothetical musings have become closer to reality than we would have ever imagined.
The largest Zaire ebolavirus epidemic in history commenced earlier this year, leaving nearly 4,000 people dead and 8,000 infected. Believed to have originated in the West African country of Guinea, it swiftly spread to neighboring nations. International attention to the virus has since heightened, as the first American and Spanish cases were diagnosed on September 30; these recent revelations have increased public fears of contracting Ebola, which has an average fatality rate of 50%.
It is interesting to note that the race to develop a cure for Ebola only accelerated once Westerners began to contract it. It has now been deemed serious. Why the sudden urgency? Over the last seven months thousands of Africans have succumbed to the virus. This begs the question: Is every life actually held as valuable, or only those of a certain race or national origin?
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