Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Emerging Threats | Exclusive Interviews | ebola | threat | flu | media

Top Doc Worries Ebola Media 'Saturation' Will Hurt Flu Prevention

By    |   Friday, 24 October 2014 03:53 PM

The wall-to-wall media coverage of the Ebola crisis has made the nightly news look like something out of the 1995 Dustin Hoffman movie "Outbreak."

And while we need to be focused on Ebola's spread and the race for a vaccine, a leading doctor tells
Newsmax TV we should not lose sight of the fact that the flu and other infectious diseases kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.
 
In an interview on Newsmax TV's  "Meet the Doctors" program, David Vastola, M.D. — an internist and gastroenterologist from Palm Beach, Fla. — expresses concern that the extensive media coverage of Ebola could overwhelm Americans and/or eclipse efforts to combat influenza.
 
"I think there is a saturation factor, and what happens is you desensitize people to a certain point," he says. "But I think that this organism is a level-four organism — that's the same level as smallpox. It's a monster and it needs not to be taken for granted, and I would hope that we don't over-saturate to the point that we take it for granted because it is deadly."
 
Story continues below video.


 
The Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa could pose a significant challenge to the U.S. healthcare system, which has seen a handful of cases. But Dr. Vastola notes the flu claims seven times as many American lives annually, and other infectious diseases strike thousands of others.
 
"Influenza kills about 35,000 Americans every year — it's a pretty significant organism," he says. "If you get the flu you're going to be down two weeks. And for employers I think it's really, really important, if someone becomes noticeably sick, that they get them out to a doctor quickly because they will contaminate the offices."
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of Americans get a flu shot every year, even though the virus sends 200,000 to the hospital annually — most of them seniors, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions. Pneumonia takes another 20,000 lives a year, federal statistics show. And antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections strike 2 million Americans every year and kill 23,000, according to the CDC.
 
Yet we tend to take these conditions for granted because they are so familiar to us, Vastola says. That may explain why so many Americans forgo the flu shot.
 
"I think it's partly that we take it for granted, because it's here every year," he tells Newsmax TV. "Most times you don't get it. But if you do get it, you will remember it because you will be sick."
 
He adds that while Americans should be concerned about Ebola, and the government needs to do everything possible to prevent a widespread outbreak of the virus in the U.S., the current crisis underscores the need to get a flu shot and take other key steps to prevent contracting influenza.
 
This is not the year to wind up in a hospital emergency room with flu-like symptoms — such as fever and gastrointestinal distress — that could be mistaken for Ebola.

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While we need to be focused on Ebola's spread and the race for a vaccine, a leading doctor tells Newsmax TV we should not lose sight of the fact that the flu and other infectious diseases kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.
ebola, threat, flu, media, saturation, meet the doctors
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Friday, 24 October 2014 03:53 PM
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