Students remain indifferent about Ebola virus regardless of media attention

Oct. 20, 2014

Nikki Martinez -Special to The Scribe
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UCCS students are seemingly unconcerned about the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

While they consider the possibility of contracting the virus, students think it unlikely that they will personally be affected. According to the Center for Disease Control, Ebola, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and fatal disease caused by one of four strains of the virus that can affect humans.

Symptoms of the disease include fever of 101.5 degrees or higher, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage. On average symptoms appear eight to 10 days after exposure to the virus.

“I don’t know very much about Ebola,” healthcare science major Kristen Olsen said. “I just know it’s a virus that started in Africa and that it’s fatal.”

According to a Gallup Poll, approximately one-fifth of Americans are concerned about contracting the Ebola virus. These numbers are comparable to the number of Americans who were concerned about contracting H1N1, swine fl u, in 2009.

“Honestly, I am not too concerned about Ebola,” business major, Scott Hilton, said. “I feel like it’s being blown out of proportion like swine flu was.”

On Sept. 30, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola in the United States.

Thomas Eric Duncan, a man from Dallas who had recently traveled to West Africa, died on Oct. 8. On Oct. 12, the CDC confirmed that a healthcare worker who provided care for the patient tested positive for the virus.

“My interest is in healthcare and I work as a tech in the emergency department,” human biology major Steven Lodwig said. “So hearing that a nurse has contracted the virus that definitely brings concern to the healthcare community, not just patients.”

“I would definitely be worried about it if it spread.” Olsen thinks it poses no current threat to UCCS.

“I don’t think it will be spread very much in America,” Olsen said. “We take hygiene seriously and prevent the spread of infection well.”

Olsen works as a certified nursing assistant and had not considered how Ebola would affect her until learning about the healthcare worker who contracted the virus.

“You are supposed to take isolation precautions when working with people who have infectious diseases,” Olsen said. “I think that it is concerning because I work as a CNA so I work with the patients even more than the nurses do. It makes it more real knowing that she got the disease taking care of somebody.”

The Gallup poll explains what Americans think about Ebola.

“By and large, most Americans do not think it is likely that they or someone in their family will get the Ebola virus. 34 percent deem it ‘not too likely’ and 49 percent say ‘not likely at all. Four percent of Americans think it is very likely they will contract the Ebola virus, and another 10 percent consider it somewhat likely.”

The CDC states that the 2014 epidemic of Ebola is the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.

Editor’s Note: As part of COMM 2900, Writing for the Media, students submitted articles that tied a Gallup Poll to the local area. The best was selected for use in The Scribe and is printed here.