Ebola: it scares the life out of you, right?


There are two articles about Ebola in the Belfast Telegraph this morning. The first is headed ‘Ebola has the upper hand, says US expert’  and the other is headed ‘Ebola Briton gets experimental drug’.

The first article quotes Dr Tom Frieden, director of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: ‘Lots of hard work is happening. Lots of good things are happening. But the virus still has the upper hand.” Ebola has already killed 1,400 people in West Africa. The second article tells us about a ‘Briton’ called William Pooley. He’s being cared for at the Royal Free Hospital in London and has been given the experimental drug ZMapp. The doctors describe him as a “resilient and remarkable young man” who is now sitting up, reading and chatting. He’s a volunteer nurse and he got the virus in Sierra Leone. 

Given the attention it’s receiving, you’d figure Ebola was a horrible, life-threatening disease and you’d be making sure to steer clear of it.  In fact, you could  describe reporting of it as something of a medical panic. There’s no doubt it’s a deadly disease but even deadly diseases are relative. The Ebola outbreak was spotted last February: since then some 300,000 people have died from malaria and 600,000 from tuberculosis. And there’s more. Between now and next April, a deadly disease for which there is no known cure will strike in Britain, Ireland, the US and other countries. It’ll kill between 250,000 and 500,000 people. It’s called the flu. Not Asian flu or some new, unfamiliar flu. Just your regular boring old flu. Kills tens of thousands.

But who wants to read two articles in the Belfast Telegraph  about flu? Far better go with the media flow and scare the bejasus out of us with something foreign-sounding and lethal. What ever happened to that disease we all could have got if we ate meat? Or the flesh-eating disease that devoured its victims? Virtually every summer we get some disease from which a limited number of people have died,  and we’re subjected to a media barrage that makes us want to do a Howard Hughes/Michael Jackson and climb inside a germ-resistant capsule and stay there.

The one consolation is that the media mislead us with quarter-truths in disease matters only. In everything else they give us the unstretched truth. Right?

10 Responses to Ebola: it scares the life out of you, right?

  1. Norma wilson August 27, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Good Morning Jude,
    This line jumped out at me, I read it again, yes yes I was reading:
    “The one consolation is that the media mislead us with quarter truths”,Up to this point I was excited, we had found common ground something we both agreed on. But then you said, ” in diseased matters only”!
    I also feel the same way about the false reporting on Israel, this very day more lies and deceit are coming out, regarding the inhumane way, the people of Gaza have treated by Hamas!
    But my little finger is tired, telling Israel not to trust any one, and by that I mean anyone.
    Why should they Israel care what the world thinks no one cares about them.
    Look how many communist party’s bombed and terrorised citizens to get were they are today. IRA PLO. ANC, I think Israel should continue, tell the people to get out, they should all be given free passage to Ireland, and then IDF should finish Hamas off.
    This is the only way, other wise it will start up again in weeks or months.
    Now in regards to your Ebola, the people of West Africa are eating bush meat, zebra, monkeys, hyena, lion, buck, pretty much anything. They are also bringing it to the British Isles, I include all parts here.
    Lack of hand washing, and hygiene is also not practised.
    I also believe, what it says in the Bible, there will be many diseases sent to us, God is angry at us, me included, for our lack of love and compassion to one another.
    Just before I go, the Israeli’s have had a break through for some drug, to clear up one of our many illness’s, I just hope all those anti-Semitic people do not have the cheek to seek it out, when it is marketed.

    • Jude Collins August 27, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Ach Norma – I was with you as far as ‘Good morning’ and then it all fell apart. I don’t think we’ll ever agree about the Middle East. To me it seems obvious that Israel is treating the Palestinian people with terrible cruelty, to you they are heroic and surrounded by enemies. I think we’ve ploughed up and down the topic enough times. As for Ebola, I think you’re maybe missing my main point, which is that the media in the silly season settle on a life-threatening disease (new) and talk it up to an absurd degree. Final point: I get uneasy when I hear people talk about an angry God. The God I believe in is a God of love, otherwise we wouldn’t be given such a glorious, stunning, mysterious world. Angry God talk makes him sound like an irate father. I think God’s much bigger than that.

      • paul August 27, 2014 at 11:50 am #

        Could not agree more, The God I worship is not vengeful. Ebola is spread through contact with body fluids Epidemics of Ebola come around every so often, no one is quite sure wherethe virus lurks while dormant. Over 1.3 million people will die of TB ths year worldwide. It is a curable disease if the proper medications are administered. It is however primarily a disease of the poor. It is spread by airbiorne droplets. Overcrowded living conditions, prisons ets are ideal places for the germ to spread. This is not an due to an angry God, this is due to a bacteria, a curable one, if the super powers have the will.

    • ANOTHER JUDE August 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

      Norma, you do realise the Israelis/Jews bombed the British years ago, King David Hotel mean anything to you? Where do you stand on that one? Justified or not? I do agree with your point about hand washing though!!

  2. ANOTHER JUDE August 27, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Swine flu, bird flu, the media picks up on a new disease every so often and foolish people stampede to their local health centre demanding antidotes. Of course, we get the other side of the coin as it were when we read that `scientists` have made a breakthrough in the cure of Alzheimers or Motor Neurone or some other hideous thing. Nothing ever really comes of these so called breakthroughs though.

  3. Iolar August 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I know one young lady who is recovering from a life threatening illness. A decision made today has resulted in a set back for her care plan. The decision was not made on clinical or professional grounds. It was based on administrative criteria. The malaise in the Health Service is directly linked to monetary policies driven by successive conservative administrations. Many years ago it was decided that if someone could run a supermarket or a factory they could manage the Health Service. Tell that to health care professionals who may be about to end their working day only to be advised that more casualties are on the way and need treatment. Supermarkets and factories close at night and at weekends. For those that remain open, effective workforce planning ensures that there are adequate numbers of staff available to manage production.
    A purchaser/provider split was introduced into the Health Service and budgets were devolved throughout the system. There was one commandment in the Health Service, “Thou shall not overspend.” Managers on performance related pay did not have the luxury to say, “Back me or sack me.” This was the mechanism used to introduce “cuts”, apologies I should have written “efficiency savings” into the Health Service. Morale is continually being undermined in the Health Service. Feedback from staff in various locations consistently points to the proliferation of bureaucracy and the ratio of managers to clinicians and other professionals. It is ironic that some individual(s) have earned (?) performance related pay by developing novel ways of cutting home help services, the provision of personal care, closing down residential homes or emergency departments. It now appears that some elected MLA’s are suffering from a similar virus. Remember the G8 conference? Cost, no problem.

  4. Perkin Warbeck August 27, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Back in the dear dead days – thankfully, still not beyond recall and not for a while yet, one presumes – when PW was doing his Dr. Livingstone thing in Nigeria there was a mantra popular among the ex-pat population which went as follows: WAWA !

    It stood for West Africa Wins Again and was spoken in tones ironic whenever something went mango-shaped, like the electricity supply suddenly expiring, thereby plunging one’s corner of the Dark Continent into an even darker parody of itself, or the water from the taps dwindling to a trickle or the local bridge being washed away in a seasonal monsoon flood or the Harmattan trade winds blowing south from the Sahara to cover everything in a fillum of dust, but specifically targeting the spanking clean laundry left out to dry on the line.

    Nothing, of course, ever went wrong in Engerland, no sceptic tanks were ever known to overflow in that sceptered isle – for most of the Ex-pats were English of the Syd and Doris type or the Winston and Winnie variety, God bless ’em. Ex-pat, of course, being short for Expatriates.

    There is indeed an echo of WAWA ! to be heard in the scare headlines highlighted in today’s blog. Which is not entirely surprising: if journalism is contemporary history and if h. is what gets written by the victors then journalism is what gets disseminated by the Lootocrats. With the first syllable of that d. word being reserved for those who incur their diss-pleasure.

    A vivid example of that in the Free Southern Stateen of late was the ‘outing’ of The Rose of Tralee (T.R.O.T.). She, the loveliest of Les Girls turned out to be one of Lez Girls. Now, as scoops go this rates marginally above the scoop which proclaimed that ‘the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Parts is actually prone to playing the Scottish card’. Indeed, so marginal that one is almost tempted to call on the services of Hawkeye.

    What PW considered to be rather more newsworthy, in fact it might be argued that the tender topic of the Rose’s preferred gender was only trotting after this, got very short shrift indeed from the cognoscenti in the media. That was the R.O.T.’s own admission that she was a……..(gasp)…….Pioneer. One of the Fr. Mathew variety rather than one of the Amelia Earhart type. Pledged to totally abstain from the taste of sauce, hair of the dog, alcopops, giggle juice, lunatic soup, moonshine, Irish handcuffs, booze and most of all, the Pope’s buttermilk itself.

    While the information highways of Hibernia have been somewhat clogged with Sapphic traffic these past number of years, when is the last time one ever saw somebody wear a Pioneer pin, even, mention the P-word? Ah,yes, the Inclusive Ireland of the Here and N.

    William P. Mulchinock is the Tralee man often credited with composing the song in question. (The P. does not stand for Pioneer but it might well stand for Protestant). And there is a summer school of t. which holds that the derogatory term ‘mulchie’ is derived from his surname.

    The fabulous Fr. Ted, an ex-pat if ever there was one, whose hilarious premise was based on a fart-catching concept of what appealed in Paddyland to the Anglo-Saxon funny bone, never tired of mocking the mulchies and their ROT infested ways and were forever pale mooning at the rise of the green mountainy men, and indeed, women. Ex-pat in this case is short for Ex-Patrick.

    But, to return to West Africa. When Goodluck Perkin was returning to the Emerald Isle he did so, courtesy of the Elder Demptser Line which stopped off at counties like Liberia for a sight-seeing spell. One’s abiding memory of Freetown, the capital of that country, was of one’s taxi being waved on to the elephant grass margins of the highway as the Presidential cavalcade, consisting of no less that fifty seven stretch limos or so sped past. That would have been the top-hatted President Tubman of fond memory.

    One mentions the Elder Dempster Line as it was on this same Liverpudlian shipping line which one Roger Casement also travelled on and he to be voyaging towards Africa. though it may well have been called the Younger Dempster Line in his time.

    One mentions Roger Casement, not because of his being a fellow Dub (Dia idir sinn agus an t-olc/ God forbid !) but rather on account of the shortness of the shrift his pioneering expose of the Belgian Congo misdemeanours is getting in the New Ireland of the Newsgathers.

    While there may well be a ceasefire in Gaza/Israel there is no such thing in the Free Southern Stateen nor is there any prospect of one ‘any time soon’ ( contemporary for ‘soon’). Shelling by RTE, the broadcasting wing of TUT, continues unabated, 24/7 (contemporary for ’round the clock and mind the dresser’) and the loudest mortars explode with ear-splitting (in every sense) sounds like ‘poor neutral Belgium’, or ‘little Catholic Belgium’.

    No better Lootocracies than RTE and TUT to play the RC card rather than the RC card when is suits. (Roman Catholic and Roger Casement respectively). If one is wondering what the Joxers and the Whackers of the Dublin Fusiliers gave so gallantly their one and only lives for and made the green fields of France run red with the wine of their bleedin’ blood, perhaps this simple and dignified tableau might persuade:

    ‘Photographs of remote Belgian Congo posts from the 1890s generally show the same pattern. From the long shadows, it appears to be late afternoon. The two or three white men in the picture wear suits and ties and elongated sun helmets, like a London bobby’s cap in white They are seated on wicker chairs, a dog at their feet, in front of a tent or simple thatched-roofed building, smiling. Behind them stand their unsmiling African servants, holding some emblem of their status: a serving tray, a towel draped over an arm, a bottle ready to pour. Wine glasses or tea cups rest on a table, symbols of the comforts of home. The white men are always dressed in white’.

    What was that mantra of the ex-pats again?

    Ah, yes: WAWA !

    • Jude Collins August 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

      You have cracked the ball not just for a six once more, Perkin, but for a holiday in West Africa…Brilliant!

  5. paddykool August 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    As you say Jude…Silly Season stories again. Next week we’ll get another shot at the Loch Ness Monster again or maybe some old buffer will spot a UFO or a blurred sighting of Bigfoot.Then the politicians will take up all the available space and the schools will re-open .
    Hey …remember the scare about microwave ovens. They were going to kill us too…. or that killer one about mobile phones melting the brains of the nation….then again…. maybe they got that one right after all!

  6. North Munsterman August 28, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    Very true Jude.

    As an aside, mention of Roger Casement and Belgium, “little Catholic Belgium” – anyone interested in further reading on “little Catholic Belgium’s” adventures in Africa could do worse than read “King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adam Hochschild – a truly brilliant book – but would be wise to keep a bottle or two of the hard stuff handy.