My social media feeds are abuzz with posts ranging from concerned to terrified about the current Ebola situation. Is everyone going to die a la Contagion, or will a miracle of science save us from the impending doom of a global pandemic?
Any time media and pharmaceutical interests get into a joint frenzy, little red flags go off in my head that tell me I need to take a closer look at what's really going on and what there is to do about it. Let's inject a bit of sanity to separate Ebola facts from Ebola hype…
Media frenzy vs. ebola facts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), countries currently dealing with major outbreaks of Ebola include the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Between the three of them, as of September 30, 2014, that adds up to a total case count of 7,470 (with 4,087 of those being laboratory-confirmed) from which 3,431 people have died (source).
Travel associated cases have popped up in Senegal, and more recently in Dallas, TX, with the arrival of Thomas Duncan from Liberia. Spain has recorded the first transmission of the disease outside of Africa. A nurse in Madrid who treated two Ebola patients (priests who had been in Africa and who have both died as a result) has now come down with the disease herself, in spite of supposedly following all protocols (source).
Doing a little math based on the CDC numbers, the death rate in the current Ebola outbreak is 45.9%, so it would seem reasonable that the CDC has raised its level of emergency alertness to its most dire Level 1 for only the third time in its history (source). Or is it?
The business of fear mongering
Do you remember the big swine flu (H1N1) scare back in 2009? It came and went within a matter of months. Yes, somewhere between 18,000-284,000 people died worldwide, but to put that range in perspective, regular old seasonal flu kills 250,000-500,000 every year. (source)
The swine flu crisis wasn’t that serious, but you can probably remember the rush to come up with and distribute H1N1 flu vaccines. It was a big fat “cha-ching” for the pharmaceuticals industry. The same thing happened with the bird flu scare of 2005.
Keep in mind that as of right now, the only way that Ebola is transmitted from one person to another is through coming into contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids when he/she is actively displaying symptoms. In that sense, the CDC has compared it to the HIV/AIDS virus. (source)
Currently there is no airborne transmission of Ebola (source). And yet there are already stories circulating out there raising the possibility of air-transmitted Ebola (source). It’s a remote possibility at best, but will undoubtedly help fuel the fear.
Of course, with the Ebola outbreak comes the mad rush to come up with a vaccine that will help people feel protected. Never mind that the vaccine has not been properly tested on humans for safety or efficacy. If the people demand it, you can bet that big Pharma will be all too happy to oblige.
How to protect yourself from ebola
Rather than a tidal wave of fear and the rush for ‘a cure', the common-sense solution is to focus on healthy immune systems through nutrition and hygiene – something that is greatly lacking in the areas of the globe where Ebola has become a crisis.
There's no denying that Ebola is a nasty, horrible disease that you want to avoid like the plague, but that doesn't mean we should surrender our common-sense and wait for science to save us.
Here’s the run-down of what I suggest for everyday optimal immune health:
Eat REAL food – your body's best preventative medicine
You know you need to eat a good diet to be healthy, but you may be surprised by the foods (and their reasons) on this list: 6 Immune Boosting Foods You May Be Missing.
Practice common sense and self-care
Don't make excuses while you continue to overwork and neglect to get enough sleep. Make sure you stay on top of getting plenty of sleep, sunshine (or other natural ways to get vitamin D in winter), exercise, stress management, and common-sense hygiene (good old soap and warm water do the trick).
Oh, and keep your body fluids to yourself – especially when you're dealing with strangers.
Use select supplements to fortify your immune health
The mainstream medical world and the media love to scoff at suggestions that therapeutic doses of vitamin D or intravenous vitamin C could possibly combat the deadly Ebola virus. I prefer to remain cautiously open-minded to alternatives should the need arise.
But in the meantime, there is absolutely no harm in caring for your immune system, because as you're waiting to be ravished by Ebola, you may just end up with a nasty cold or flu.
In addition to a strong foundation of food and lifestyle choices, there are certain supplements that can ward off viruses and other infections when you start feeling under the weather. See my complete immune boosting protocol here: 6 Common Cold Remedies that Really Work.
Rather than getting caught up in “threat levels” and mass hysteria, you’re much better off doing the simple things we know support a healthy, well-functioning immune system, because – short of a zombie apocalypse – robust health is always your best protection.
How do you feel about the current Ebola situation?