How Much Do You Want To Be Known?

by Curt Kovener

We all want our privacy. But should we pick & choose what’s private & what’s not?

There are some folks who put their lives, their family and their travel plans up on Facebook for durn near everyone to see. But even then, it is only what the poster wants to have read, but they have already given up a portion of their right to privacy.

After all, whose fault is it that you tell everyone of your plans to fly to Florida for Christmas and when you return home find your home broken into and valuables taken? While you didn’t invite thieves in, you told them you wouldn’t be home for the holidays. Sort of a tacit “ya’ll come”.

Since the late 1990’s when Indiana became a market value in use state for property tax assessments, we have published real estate sales disclosures because what your neighbors sell their property for can impact your property tax assessment. Some readers-whether buyers or sellers-have told us they consider that information private. But the state of Indiana has said sales prices are a matter of public record.

Recently, the Indiana court of Appeals ruled that causes of death listed on death certificates cannot be kept secret. While some may consider that an intrusion (and we do not intend to begin publishing such information) but for health reporters having access to causes of death could be of benefit to public health.

For instance, what if it was learned that a particular neighborhood or community had a higher incidence of a particular disease than the rest of the state? Wouldn’t you want to know if you lived in an area of higher than normal incidence of cancer or pulmonary disease? And wouldn’t you want to know the cause?

The state board of health as announced that there are six people being observed for a low chance of being exposed to Ebola. For those of you who may now have been paying attention, Ebola is a deadly disease communicable via bodily fluids only if symptoms are evident.

The state is not disclosing who or where these possibly exposed people are out of their right to privacy. They have not been diagnosed so that is consistent with the State Board of Health’s past practice.

The state takes a similar position on issues of West Nile Virus spread by mosquitoes and Lyme disease spread by ticks. It is only until those diseases are confirmed in the populace that the counties of victim’s residence are made public.

Lin Montgomery, public health educator for the Jackson County Health Department, provided some reassuring facts regarding Ebola.

•Ebola virus disease (EVD) is transmitted by direct contact with blood and body fluids of someone who has symptoms of disease, including fever, headache, body aches, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

•The infection can be spread only by someone who has symptoms.

•Those infected may start showing symptoms ranging from 2 to 21 days from when they were infected. The average time for symptoms to begin is 8-10 days.

• EVD is not transmitted by food, water, or airborne routes.

•Individuals must have a history of travel to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone (no other countries) within the past 21 days or must have a history of direct contact with an Ebola patient and have symptoms to warrant further investigation.

The Schneck Foundation and Community Foundation of Jackson County are hosting an informational program on Ebola next Wednesday, Nov. 12, is the Seymour high School auditorium if you would like more in-depth information on this most recent health concern.