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Ebola, Uganda and the Shadow of the Media

If there was an outbreak of a potentially deadly virus, one that has been a headline ‘pandemic’ in the past, you’d expect to see it emblazoned across the mainstream media. Their health correspondents would be drooling over exotic offerings from the usual experts, Drs Piot, Ferguson, Fauci, people from WHO, CDC, SAGE and others.

There would be dire predictions based on complex (but highly mysterious) ‘models’, all ‘international’ coverage would be echoed around the ‘social’ media sector of the mainstream media. There would be titillating stories about lurid practices alleged to give rise to this virus, which must have come from ‘somewhere else’.

If the case fatality rate was higher than 40%, compared to the 0.04% death rate recently estimated from monkeypox virus, and the virus in question this time was Ebola, you’d expect to hear more about it than we have heard about monkeypox virus, right?

But not when it occurs in Uganda, it would seem. Whether you read the fairly cautious Infectious Diseases Society of America’s report, or the Wikipedia coverage (now that they and their peers have fallen in with the mainstream when it comes to well branded epidemics and pandemics), the current outbreak in Uganda is extremely serious.

There are a few other media stories, but this has not been deemed worthy of front page coverage or breathless interviews with people in spacesuits ‘on the frontline’. Weren’t we promised vaccines during the ebola epidemics in several West African countries a few years ago?

Media coverage of disease outbreaks and other disasters has no correlation with the severity or extent of the occurrence. What determines worthiness to be graced with genuine concern and attention?

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