I Am Heading to Africa not Ebola – Calm The Flip Down

Man.  This is just going to be a public service announcement for all of you out there that have somehow left your brain behind, and have come completely irrational when it comes to Ebola.  Today I am getting on a plane, and will be heading to eastern Africa in order to train people in three different countries about an iPhone app my team developed.  But this Africa trip just keeps coming up, not because I’m bringing it up… but people are now required to ask about it.

I went to after hour urgent care a bit ago, and they said before I was taken back, “Have you recently gone to Africa?”

“No, but I’m heading there in a little bit.”  And then her face basically exploded into a million thoughts at once.  It looked something like this:

leblanc

It was like I could see the verb tenses flowing through her brain – because it was all reading out on her face perfectly in slow motion.

HE WENT TO AFRICA!!!

HE’S GOING TO GIVE ME EBOLA!!!!

And then it went from surprise outright fear…

scared

 

MY INSIDES WILL BECOME MY OUTSIDES!!!!

I’ll Bleed Out The Eyes Until I DIE!!

Oh wait… did he say he is going to go?  As in, he has not yet, but will be going?  And unless he owns a time machine… I think I could possibly survive this encounter!

happy

 

She even went so far as to apologize.  Sorry, sorry.  Yes. Ok.  And then she began to berate me for basically heading to Africa to find and then lick someone with Ebola.  I kid you not.  Like I was being irresponsible.  But this was a low key example.  Yesterday I was having my teeth cleaned, right?  And for some completely unknown reason she asked me if I had recently been to Africa.  I gave her the same response.  Nope.  But I’ll be heading there in a couple days.  AND OH MY GOSH she wouldn’t stop talking about it, with my mouth full of various equipment and paraphernalia.  I couldn’t respond.  No.  And this is basically what that felt like, to a T…

judging

Right?  Which, I’m sure 99% of you are doing right now.  You are endangering all of PLANET EARTH by your fun little trip to Africa.  Right?  I am sure that is what most people think when I mention it.  And I actually have stopped mentioning it because, Oh My GOSH.  You guys are all insane.  So, to that end, let’s look at a little image of Africa I pulled together for you all.

ebola

But!  But!  They are carrier pigeons of disease and mayhem.  Bipedal Anarchy!  You don’t know who has it!  You could be talking to death warmed over and you would never know it.  So why don’t we do just a little bit of math and see where this fear is coming from.  Because, you know, this fear is definitely logical.  So let’s just see how logical it is.  Remind me how many people live in Africa?  Oh that’s right…

1.11 Billion

Yeah, that’s with a Billion with a B.  So yeah, never mind.  I’m not doing any more statistical analysis.  I thought I would run the numbers on what the odds were potentially. But no.  1.1 billion humans live in Africa, and only 15,000 have been infected?  5,000 have already passed away.  So that leaves us with 10,000 people left to spread the disease.  And almost 100% of those are too sick to even travel.  There was a great article on Forbes that spoke specifically to this point.

“Despite the closure of schools in Ohio and Texas because students or staff members were on the plane with that nurse, despite the fact that people all over the country are suddenly becoming nervous about flying, your risk of catching Ebola is still far less than your risk of dying from the flu, which killed 53,667 Americans in 2010. In fact, if you’re not a healthcare worker treating an Ebola patient, it’s probably zero.”

But that hasn’t stopped Americans from going completely overboard.  A Kentucky schoolteacher was forced to resign after returning to the U.S. several weeks ago from Kenya, a nation that has yet to record a single case of Ebola…and is over 3,000 miles away from Liberia, the closest country in which the Ebola outbreak is in effect.  Let me clarify what that means.  This little school in Kentucky was so worried that one of their teachers caught her some Ebola when she was farther away than Boston is from San Francisco to the nearest infected individual.  Eh?!

Basically the nurse was forced into a 21 day leave in order to “protect the school” – at the end of which she was expected to submit a doctor’s note stating that she was in good health before she’d be considered viable for working again.  She eventually just resigned after being hit by stiff resistance and ignorance from the parents and the school in general.  Which is just absolutely beyond amazing to me.  The sheer amount of fear that would be necessary to make something like this happen is just phenomenal.

I’m actually more worried about getting through customs without going to jail than I am of getting Ebola.  I figure my odds as 1 in 4 I make it through without a small jail stint in Ethiopia.  1 in 8 in Phillippines.  But I figure I have a better chance of winning powerball in several states in a row than I do of getting contracting the disease.  Just saying.  And so let’s just all chill out about the whole disease thing.  Got it?

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