Some Ebola Hype May Be Healthy

It doesn't take a confirmed case of Ebola in Michigan to get people talking.

"I don't think it's being over-hyped, I think its something to be genuinely concerned about," said Cynthia Taggert.

It's that attention which may lead to some changes. Mark Largent studies the history of infectious diseases and he says hype around the latest Ebola outbreak could be a tipping point.

"Unless we feel motivated to protect ourselves, unless we feel motivated to do the research on treatments and vaccines, then we typically don't do it," said Largent, who works at Michigan State University.

With three people diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. Largent says it's already changing how medical facilities handle patients.

"The fact that you had someone just come in with a list of symptoms and had just traveled to here from West Africa, any patient like that would immediately spark the attention of the healthcare workers," Largent said. "Three to four weeks ago much less so because there wasn't this type of anxiety."

But it takes the right balance of concern and reason.

"If the anxiety is just a lot of arm-flailing it really doesn't do any good," Largent added. "If the anxiety motivates politicians to invest money, the CDC to more carefully craft its protocols, then it is a good thing."

Even though psychotherapists like Dr. Shelley Smithson say some fear is understandable.

"This feels more mysterious and I think when thinks things are more mysterious they're more frightening," Smithson said.

Which is why it's all about putting things in perspective.



 
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