The spread of diseases such as Cholera, SARS, and Ebola are due to lack of knowledge. Understanding how diseases spread is crucial to protecting oneself—like washing your hands for 60 seconds, sneezing into the pit of your elbow, and avoiding close contact. But the people of West Africa didn’t even know what Ebola was, let alone how to prevent themselves from coming in contact with it. (“Understand How Infectious Diseases Spread”, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention).
The absence of knowledge is in itself a cultural practice that contributes to the spread of disease. According to the Ebola documentary, the people of Guinea didn’t know what was happening. They thought this mysterious illness was a curse! Fathers saw their kin die slow and painful deaths. Maids contracted Ebola because they didn’t know that the homes in which these people died were highly infectious.
The development of an outbreak is partly caused by cultural practices, but it is also controlled by biomedical science. When SARS was discovered, scientists and members of the World Health Organization were able to find the epicenter of the disease, which was Hong Kong (SARS Documentary). After releasing a list of common symptoms associated with SARS, people soon became educated.
Despite all of the biomedical technology, diseases still spread. It is extremely difficult to keep track of who is exposed to what. Discovering and naming an infectious disease is a complicated process and it doesn’t just happen in the blink of an eye.
In order to prevent wide-spread epidemics, people must cooperate with protocol, and keep in mind those who are in danger. It’s sad that Americans aren’t afraid of infectious diseases because “America is too advanced to let a disease spread out of control”. But this should no longer be the focus. Problems across the world become our problems as well, and it is up to us to help those who don’t have the tools nor knowledge to protect themselves.