My husband was hospitalized last week for knee replacement surgery. During his recovery, I spoke with a native Nigerian at the hospital who was more than a little put out about the coverage or lack thereof of the Ebola virus outbreak on her native continent.
The spread of Ebola in Nigeria has been tamped down, but the disease is spreading in other West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Unfortunately, not much coverage was given to the thousands of people who have died in West Africa during this recent outbreak, and this woman couldn't understand that.
I don't either.
And now that the epidemic has come into focus because of the American aid workers who contracted and successfully fought off the disease, reports are zeroing in on the first Ebola death on Oct. 8 in the United States, rather than the 121 people who died in one day from Ebola in Sierra Leone, according to daily statistics kept by Sierra Leone's Emergency Operations Center.
The hospital worker I met during my husband's surgery said we Americans were blaming Africa for spreading the disease, rather than helping Africa contain the disease.
And now that a nurse in Dallas has contracted the disease, calls to close our borders will only increase. The new case will have TV and radio commentators panicking and hypochondriacs heading for the nearest emergency rooms.
I suggest we all take a deep breath.
Ebola is a scary disease. No doubt. Patients suffer vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, fever and unexplained bleeding. About half of sufferers in Africa die, amounting to about 4,000 people.
Malaria killed 600,000 people in Africa in 2012. Use that for perspective.
I'm not seeing the reason for all the fear in our country. We have far more to fear from the flu than Ebola, and we can't close our shores to the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 226,000 Americans are hospitalized with the flu every year, and 36,000 die from flu-related complications. Still, only 46 percent of Americans get a flu shot.
Two Americans have been successfully treated for Ebola and, currently, four people are being treated for Ebola in America. Only the Dallas health care worker contracted the disease here.
Those numbers seem really low.
Don't we have enough to worry about?
Right here in Fayette County, we have students who might be going to school every day and learning little or nothing. We have an elementary school that sank to the bottom of all schools in the state. Shouldn't we be embarrassed enough about that and worried about the future of the children who are being educated there?
Throughout our state, we have students graduating from colleges and universities with enough debt to keep the American Dream at bay for more than 20 years while they pay it off. Shouldn't we be worried about that?
And nationally, we have open season on killing black youth not only by police but by average citizens who somehow detect danger when none is present. We want to get them before they might get us.
Why doesn't that scare us more than Ebola?
As a nation, we are creating things that go bump in the night when we should realize how blessed we are. We purport to be a Christian nation, and the Bible I read says "do not be afraid" or "fear not" far more times than it says an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
It also says we should care for the sick, give shelter to the homeless, and feed the poor. Nowhere does it say to close your eyes, ears, hearts and borders to the needs of your brethren.
I think we ought to be more afraid of missing those marks of being a good Christian than falling ill to Ebola.