The news: With yet more proof of just how illogical and silly Ebola hysteria has become, Tax Foundation's Joe Henchman snapped this photo of a woman wearing a homemade hazardous materials suit at Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport.
Mic can't independently confirm whether the photo is a misguided attempt at safety, an early Halloween costume, a prank or a hoax along the lines of the "Osama crossing the border" video released by conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe earlier this year.
But it is stirring up reactions. A reader sent the photo to right-wing site Breitbart News, where it's been shared thousands of times and has attracted hundreds of comments lambasting the White House and the CDC for not closing U.S. air traffic to the five West African countries that have seen cases of the deadly hemorrhagic fever. It's specifically striking nerves because one of the nurses who treated Liberian man Thomas Duncan in Dallas was accidentally permitted to board a plane, stirring fears of an widespread Ebola outbreak.
The risk of catching Ebola on an airplane is actually extremely low. According to the CDC's Marty Cetron, infection in that environment would require "direct contact frequently with body fluids or blood." The actual people who need to worry about wearing proper protective gear — which is far more complicated than wrapping yourself in a rain slicker and painter's mask — include medical staff and other personnel who are either treating Ebola or disposing of potentially infected items in confirmed patients' homes.
Despite the continued low risk to the American public, people are still flipping out over the presence of Ebola in the country. Navarro College in Texas revoked the admissions of all students from affected West African countries, including Ebola-free Nigeria. African immigrants in D.C. told the Washington Post they have been harassed, looked upon with suspicion and ostracized.
It's not just limited to the public: Lawmakers and pundits, mainly on the right, have exaggerated fears about Ebola for political ends by tying the foreign epidemic to everything from immigration and border policing to the president's golfing.
Here's *actually* how you contract Ebola: Here's the CDC's official guidelines on Ebola transmission, which every American should read instead of watching the hysteria on cable news:
When an infection does occur in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:
- Blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- Objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- Infected animals
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.
So unless you're a health care worker, the family member of someone who recently returned from West Africa or someone who's been personally contacted by health care officials warning you to quarantine yourself, you should take Shepard Smith's advice and chill out: