Will Ebola Panic Sever the Chain of Survival for Cardiac Arrest?

The #1 killer of Americans is not Ebola.

It is heart disease. The fact that heart has that distinct honor in 2014 is a testament to the fact that medicine has tamed many of the world's infectious diseases through hygiene, sanitation, antimicrobials, and vaccines. 

One of the key aspects of decreasing the mortality associated with coronary artery disease is prompt initiation of bystander CPR during witnessed cardiac arrest. This is the second link in the Chain of Survival. Getting prompt CPR can make a substantial difference not only in terms of survival but also in ultimate neurological recovery (i.e. minimizing injury to the brain secondary to oxygen deprivation).

As Ebola panic envelopes the world, "Ebola Scares" are popping up all over. In some cases people might collapse and provoke panicked bystanders to assume that the person's condition is due to Ebola--irrespective of the actual minuscule prevalence of the disease outside of the epidemic zone.  

Such reactions, if they dissuade bystander CPR (which is a strong possibility), will sever one of the crucial links in the cardiac arrest Chain of Survival.

Faulty risk perception is a puzzling thing that, in some cases, could have fatal secondary consequences.