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The story looks like its straight from a history book about the dark ages. Doctors without Borders tried to setup a clinic in Haiti to treat cholera patients. Instead of being welcomed by the local people, the doctors were met with fear, a small riot and rock throwing. The situation got so bad that armed troops had to be brought in to protect the clinic and doctors.

Cholera fears spark anti-clinic protest in Haiti

During the middle ages, people that did not understand the plague looked for groups of people to blame for the outbreaks. Finger pointers would pick someone in the village that had a bad reputation, brand them a witch for the outbreak of the plague, and burn them at the stake. An unknown number of Jews were murdered and burned during the Dark Ages for “supposedly” spreading the plague. There are stories of people being rounded up, locked in a barn, and the barn set on fire – because it was believed the people were witches, or were Jews and were responsible for causing the plague.


600+ years later, and people still express fear of diseases they do not understand.


The question is, if an epidemic breaks out in your area, will the locals understand the disease? Will they know how to prevent the spread of the disease, and will they welcome treatment? Or will they throw rocks at the people that are there to help.


One of the conditions that helps an epidemic spread is misunderstanding by the people. Karen might go visit her friends with the mindset that “its ok, Jill is not sick”. But what Karen does not know is that Jills mom works at one of the local Big Box Marts and has lots of face-to-face contact with people. Jill visits with Karen, and the family, and brings back an unwelcome guest in the form of a bacteria or virus.
 

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Welcome to the rice field
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FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself". Fear is a built in defense mechanism. There are things in the world worthy of fear, but when that fear is taken beyond a rational level, or when it clouds our decision making it becomes a hazard to us. In time of crisis, panic and fear become as much a threat as the crisis itself. Often more people die from being trampled trying to get out of a burning building than are actually killed by the fire.
 

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I guess it would depend if it's a NEW disease, or an old one. I can't imagine many people in the US getting up in arms over say, measles, we all understand that. But if it's some new type, or let's say Ebola-esque than ya, I can imagine folks would be freaking out. Although I imagine most of them would be of the just stay away from me & mine type, rather than showing up someplace sick people are being treated and rioting. I mean, *I* wouldn't go looking for an ebola clinic...I'd want to stay far far away from that mess.
 

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The biggest enemy of combating epidemics is ignorance. Ignorance leads to all kinds of inappropriate actions that just make the situation worse. And unfortunately the world is filled full of ignorant people, especially in the "modern", western World.

We may not throw stones at the docs. But we'll jam up the hospital ERs with cases that are scary but not urgent care. We'll ignore the current strain of respiratory illnesses because the last few either fizzled (swine), never materialized (bird), or was properly contained (SARS). Many will ignore modern medicine and happily swallow some supplement with little (if any) scientific study. Many will get their medical information from some blog rather than consult with a professional.

That's why pandemics are one of my biggest concerns. It's not the disease that worries me. It's the people. When other types of disasters hit, people might not be prepared or know what to do. But many are going to be able to bumble through, learn along the way, and survive. But medical crises bring out the utter stupidity in mankind.
 

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No, they won't throw rocks at the doctors. They will storm the clinic insisting that they and their families be treated before everyone else. Everyone will be convinced that THEY are the sickest and deserve to be treated first. They won't want to hear about common sense precautions like masks, confinement, and hand washing. If there is a vaccine available every single person will think THEY are the one that should get it.
 
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