The fear mongers that want the US border closed to the rest of the world relish every time a new worldwide crisis emerges. The fear mongers use social media and traditional news sources to spread fear in order to mobilize the electorate to the closed border mentality. No matter how remote the danger is to US citizens, for the fear mongers every crisis is an opportunity to proclaim closing the borders is good for the United States.

The current Ebola crisis is no different. As with all fear mongers and propagandists, the facts are just inconvenient obstacles that must be ignored in order to spread their closed border mentality to the US population. Because sensational headlines of walking dead at the US border dominates the news, I thought it important to share with you a quick history of Ebola.

Ebola October 2014 Infographic

The Ebola Facts

Ebola was named by Peter Piot, a scientist in Antwerp that was examining the blood of a Belgium nun that had died from an unknown disease in Africa in 1976. Piot looked at a map and saw the Ebola river and decided that was going to be the name of the virus his team had finally photographed using an electron microscope.

Historically, each Ebola outbreak has been traced to one person who contracted the disease by handling the dead carcasses of an African antler known as a Duiker, a chimpanzee or a gorilla. That individual then begins a sequence of spreading the virus person to person through bodily fluids. The disease is normally spread within families and in hospital settings where the appropriate protection is not observed. The disease has not been proven to be an airborne contagion and thus it is not spread through the air.

The international community currently classifies the Ebola virus into five strains. The Ebola (EBOV) virus, the Sudan (SUDV) virus, the Reston (RESTV) virus, the Tai Forest (TAFV) virus and the Bundibugyo (BDBV) virus. The Ebola (EBOV) is the most common of the virus family and is the current one in the news.

Ebola first appeared in the Sudan on November 1976. It was known as the Sudan (SUDV) strain. This outbreak killed 151 of the 284 cases that were documented. That is a 53% fatality rate. Also in 1976, another outbreak occurred in Zaire now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR. Congo). This strain was the EBOV strain that killed 280 patients out of 318 cases.

Great Britain had one individual infected due to accidently sticking himself with a contaminated needle at the Microbiological Research Establishment in 1976. The patient survived the exposure. In 1979, the Sudan virus again surfaced in the Sudan killing 22 patients out of 34 infected.

The United States and the Philippines had an outbreak starting in 1989 of the Reston (RESTV) virus that were introduced by monkeys imported from the Philippines. There were no reported fatalities. In 1992, Italy as well reported the Reston virus in the country with no human infection. There was also another RESTV outbreak in the US in 1996 with no reported human infections.

In 1994, an outbreak of the Ebola (EBOV) started in Gabon where it spread to the DR. Congo (Zaire) on to South Africa. This outbreak lasted until 1997 and resulted in a 68% mortality rate averaged through the five episodes of the outbreak. Uganda had an outbreak of the Sudan (SUDV) virus in 2000. This outbreak resulted in 224 deaths out of 425 infected patients. From 2001 through 2003, another outbreak of the EBOV virus started in Gabon and spread to the DR. Congo. Three hundred cases were documented with 253 death, an 84% mortality rate.

Russia has had two deaths connected to the Ebola virus, both as a result of laboratory contamination. Those occurred in 1996 and 2004.

In 2007 and 2008, there were two outbreaks of the Ebola virus in the DR. Congo that resulted in 52 deaths out of 181 infected individuals. In addition, during the same period, an outbreak of the Bundibugyo (BDBV) virus occurred in Uganda. This outbreak resulted in 37 deaths out of the 149 patients infected. This is a 25% mortality rate.

In 2011, another outbreak in Uganda resulted in six deaths out of 12 reported cases. Another Bundibugyo outbreak in the DR. Congo occurred in 2012. Thirteen deaths out of 36 patients were reported. Another Sudan strain outbreak occurred in 2012 in Uganda resulting in three deaths out of six patients.

The current outbreak has been identified as an Ebola strain that started in multiple countries in West Africa. So far, this current outbreak is showing a mortality rate of about 52%. Over four thousand individuals have been reported as infected including two in the United States, in the Dallas Texas area. One death in the United States has been reported to date.

No Ebola South of the Border

That’s right look closely at the map of the countries where the various strains of Ebola have been reported and you will notice that all of the countries to the south of the United States, in other words all of Latin America has not had a single case of Ebola detected. As the fear mongers continue to demand that the borders be closed the fact remains that the southern border of the United States does not pose an Ebola crisis for the US.

More importantly, look closely at the map and the information I have shared here with you and you will notice that although highly dangerous Ebola is the not the disease that will end the world regardless of the doom-and-gloom by the fear mongers.

The fact is that the high mortality rates have been correlated to the inability of countries to adequately contain the disease in hospital settings or rural areas. That includes the United States, as the spread of the Ebola virus is a direct result of the hospital’s inability to ensure the adequate containment of the infected materials.

As the fear mongers continue to spread the fear it is important to keep in mind that the Ebola virus is transmitted directly via bodily fluids from an infected individuals. Therefore, unless you are going to be exchanging bodily fluids with an unknown individual it is highly unlikely you will contract the Ebola virus.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

5 replies on “Ebola Fear Mongering”

  1. Oh for crying out loud, are you really going to take a snapshot of the Ebola virus locations and use that as your open our borders to immigrants argument? Give it time and Ebola will eventually touch every country and this will have little to do with immigration strategy or policies. The open border debate centers around common sense that most politicians and citizens of our great nation are too stupid to understand – our safety! Maybe the argument is too simple for them to understand. People from other places want to hurt or kill Americans. Our goal should be to make it harder for them to accomplish that. Although we cannot trample someone’s civil rights, we must also balance that against the safety of Americans. So keep tracking the Ebola outbreaks in the Latin American countries and accept this as proof of an acceptable immigration policy. Must have been a slow news day – did Niland call in sick or something?

  2. Mr Paredes,

    I really enjoy your website. I do find something problematic though. When it comes to Mexico, you don’t seem to look at things objectively.

    You are highly critical of US policy towards Mexico when it come to immigration etc. However, you don’t seem to hold Mexico to the same standard. Their immigration policy towards people to their south is atrocious. Now, on the heels of your article, we learned that Mexico refused a cruise ship scheduled to port there because someone with EBola was on board.

    You are critical of those who suggest the US should limit entry of immigrants from the southern border. When it comes to Mexico doing the same thing, you are conspicuously quiet on the matter.

    1. Hello Vegas,

      Thank you for reading and participating on my blog. Also, thank you for your comments. You are right, I do not seem to criticize Mexico as much. I will admit to some bias when it comes to my country. There are many things I would like to write about however in the end I’m limited by time, current topics of interest and what I believe would interest my readership. However, I have been critical about certain things in regards to Mexico both in personal discussions and in my writings. I have written pieces criticizing the Mexican government’s refusal to allow the constitution’s clear right giving Mexicans the right to own guns. I believe the Mexican government has created laws contravening the right bestowed in the Constitution to bear arms by Mexican citizens. I also believe that Mexico needs to acknowledge and correct its own immigration failures. In the 80’s I was very critical of Mexico’s closed economic markets and applauded Salina’s economic policies that fundamentally transformed the country. I recently wrote about how the “perfect dictatorship” was proper and good for Mexico in the form of the PRI. I wish I had more time to write about many more topics. In the end the decision on what I write about comes down to what interests me the most at the time I’m writing the piece. As my audience continues to expand and new political and geopolitical topics enter the mainstream I will start devoting more time on other topics, including celebrating the good and arguing against the bad in Mexico.

      Thank you for your continued participation on my blog,

  3. Thank you for your response.

    As someone who would like to see Mexico improve for the sake of its people, I feel it does not do anyone any good to project its problems on the US. Yes, the US has its own problems. That’s one reason I like your blog. You seek to keep elected officials accountable.

    In order to keep the government of Mexico accountable, the citizens must remain vigilant. Criticism MUST be directed at those in power. That’s one reason why I feel the “perfect dictatorship” is a danger to the people.

    Keep up the good work.

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