Fear and statistics – taming the ebola monster

A lot of people are concerned about ebola right now. It’s on the tip of seemingly everyone’s tongue, from lawmakers to the folks in line at the grocery store. We have people refusing quarantine, town meetings being held and one of the hottest Halloween costumes this year is a hazmat suit. I must admit, I briefly considered how many gallons of water we could store in our basement. If your kids aren't the "ah, whatever" type, they may be just as susceptible to the panic as adults, and its important that you know how to calm those fears.

Here are some reminders/facts to calm your child’s fears and head off any uneasiness that might be setting in. Kids don’t have to be afraid! And um, neither do parents.

Acknowledge the Fear

  • If your child is freaked out, don’t fuel the fire by feeding into their fear. Acknowledge their fear, even if it seems irrational to you. Then help them break it down.
  • Turn it into a lesson! Research the origins of the disease, what led to the spread of past outbreaks, how it spreads and prevention methods. A little bit of knowledge can ease the tension of uncertainty.

Treatment

  • Only two people have died in the United States from Ebola. Two. Though nearly a dozen have been treated domestically, the only casualty as of this writing has been the man from Liberia who came to Texas with the disease already growing inside his body, and a doctor who died in Nebraska who also came directly from west Africa. Their treatment came unfortunately late in the cycle of the disease, and is often cited as the reason they did not survive.
  • U.S. medical care, for all of the problems that it has, is still among the best in the world. A large part of the reason that the disease is so deadly in West Africa is because of the dire lack of good care.
  • Standard medical care like oxygen, fluids, blood pressure monitoring and treatment of secondary infections have been the most effective treatment for the disease - even more than super drugs. That standard of care is easily available here in the U.S.

Probability

  • No one has gotten the disease in the United States who wasn’t a healthcare worker who had direct contact with a patient. So unless your child is a healthcare provider in an Ebola ward, they’re unlikely to be at risk.
  • West Africa is far away. It just is, and the disease isn’t coming from the sky - it comes from contact with things like vomit and human waste. Those are gross facts, but will help your child to understand the reality of the spread of the disease.

Things that are more likely than getting Ebola:

  • Winning the lottery
  • Getting hit by a baseball
  • Slipping on the soap in the shower
  • Being cast on Survivor
  • Catching dysentery
  • An IRS audit
  • Getting struck by lightning
  • Marrying a prince or a princess
  • Being attacked by ninjas
ebola
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