The Current

Ebola Panic Goes Viral: Is media coverage of the outbreak causing undue fear and panic?

We hear differing opinions on just how much we should worry about a disease that's hard to catch and hard to cure, and the media's role in perpetuating the panic that surrounds it.
We hear differing opinions on just how much we should worry about a disease that's hard to catch and hard to cure, and the media's role in perpetuating the panic that surrounds it. 


After listening to some sensational media reports, it's easy to excuse people for fearing the worst when they get a stomach ache or a little joint pain.

But Ebola panic has real life consequences... In Texas, a community college denied admission to two Nigerian students, saying they were "not accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases," before changing their justification when media found out.

A high school soccer player in Pennsylvania, originally from Guinea, was taunted with chants of "Ebola!" at a tournament. And, after Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola in Dallas and infected at least two health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas County officials met yesterday to decide whether to implement a local state of emergency.

I shook hands with, hugged and kissed, not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory, because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols. They knew what they were doing. And I felt perfectly safe doing so.U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama tried to calm fears when describing his interactions with the health care workers on the frightening frontline.

While some argue that a little fear can be part of a healthy response, others are dismayed with the portrayal of this virus. To discuss, we were joined by three guests: 

  • Heather Wilhelm is a columnist with RealClearPolitics, a news and polling site.
  • Dr. Michael Gardam is Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the University Health Network.
  • Andre Picard is the Public Health Reporter with the Globe and Mail.

Do you think the fear and panic surrounding Ebola is overblown?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry, Pacinthe Mattar and Ines Colabrese.

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