Anthrax Fear Spreads Faster Than Disease

Helen Galvin
El Vaquero Staff Writer


Just seeing the word sends shivers up the spine. And fear of coming in contact with the virus has driven many Americans across our borders to the north and south to load up on medicine “just in case.”

Anthrax can be a fatal disease. Even with this knowledge, our government and governments around the world have exchanged strains of this virus for years for scientific studies. This deadly material can be found in government labs, medical labs and even in some college labs. It seems that we have tossed it around freely without thought or care of the ultimate consequences.
This week anthrax anxiety has made the covers TIME Newsweek and U.S. World & News Report. You cannot buy a newspaper without seeing at least one article about anthrax on the front page. It is no wonder this nation is feeling a bit ill.

Do I have a sore throat? Is it the flu? I’m awfully tired. When I opened a box from Home Shopping Network, an awful lot of dust came out and now I’m feeling lightheaded. Maybe I should call the doctor. Even the little old lady in remote Minot, N.D., is second-guessing herself.
Anthrax worry has taken over common sense. There is a huge difference between being exposed to a disease and having contracted it. If a person in a classroom has a cold and sneezes, you’ve been exposed to the cold; if you have shared a can of coke with the person with the cold and in a few days begin having cold symptoms, you might have contracted the cold. Or, your allergies might be acting up.

But now anthrax panic has arrived. To date, 12 people have been infected, 32 have actually been exposed to this virus and sadly, three people have died from the disease. There are more than 300 million people living in America. The odds of getting anthrax are on our side. Should we be concerned, informed and educated Americans? Yes! Panicked Americans? No way!
Shortly after Sept. 11, bin Laden announced that he would destroy us. Whoever is behind this anthrax threat is helping bin Laden and terrorists all over the world to succeed in their goal. Our fear is destroying us. That is called psychological warfare, and they are doing a very good job. From sea to shining sea anthrax is becoming a terrifying word.

Speaking of words, since we haven’t heard many good ones lately, remember some that were spoken more than 60 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and are just as relevant today as they were then: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”