From the Daily Kos, written by Dr. RJ:
About five years ago, during the H1N1 influenza outbreak (a.k.a. swine flu), the Egyptian government slaughtered every pig within the country’s borders. None of the 300,000 pigs that were killed was actually a vector for the disease, but that made no difference. Even while being told by every scientific and medical professional in the world that it would be a waste of time and resources, Egypt did it anyway. And 344 years earlier, during the Great Plague of London, the Yersinia pestis bacteria killed 15 percent of the city’s population, or around 100,000 people. One of the public health measures ordered by London officials was the killing of thousands of dogs and cats. However, since in reality it was the fleas on the backs of rats that were actually spreading the plague, the culling did nothing and removed predators that would have fed on the disease-causing vector. People in the 17th century hadn’t worked out the finer points of germ theory. Those of us in the here and now don’t have that excuse.
Unfortunately, even with all of the advancements and knowledge gained from previous experiences, there is still no vaccine against stupidity.
Over the past month, as the Ebola situation within the United States has taken shape, we’ve witnessed suggested travel bans that won’t do anything to stop the virus, a “czar” appointed to coordinate a response to a disease that has infected a grand total of four people who were at some point symptomatic and within the country, willful ignorance about how Ebola is transmitted and crackpot conspiracy theories that say this whole situation is motivated by liberal guilt about slavery, big pharma profits or population control, and widespread fear and panic that’s closed schools and been used for political opportunism. Every case of a person infected with Ebola, whether here or anywhere else in the world, is a horrible tragedy. However, let’s get real about this. Around 30,000 Americans will die from the flu this year. There will be no appointment of a flu czar or shut down of air travel, and some of the same people freaking out about Ebola won’t vaccinate either themselves or their children against influenza because of cockamamie beliefs about vaccines.