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Nothing too scary about October except...

By Dian Vujovich

Well, so much for investor concerns over a scary October. As the month came to a close, all major indices were up for the month. Better yet, prices at the pump were the lowest seen in years! If it weren’t for the over-hyped Ebola scare, the month would have wound up more joy filled than worrisome.

Let’s begin with the market.

For the record, stock indices did not have a grim month. The DJIA closed on Friday, Oct. 31 at a record high of 17,390.52 and gained 1.1 percent for the month. The S&P500 also hit a new high closing at month’s end at 2,018.05, a gain of 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq composite was up 1.4 percent and closed at 4,630.74.

Year-to-date returns are more stunning. NASDAQ has gained the most, up 11.95 percent. Behind it, the S&P500, up 10.99 percent and then the DJIA ahead 6.86 percent, according to Bloomberg.

I’m guessing all pumpkins carved at the end of yesterday’s trading day had big smiley faces on them.

Also smiling were those filling up at gas stations.

At the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults in Palm Beach, where I’m getting therapy for a recent total reverse shoulder replacement, the talk was about how cheap gas prices are. With prices for regular gas in the $2.90’s a gallon range—or at least 50-some cents cheaper a gallon than it had been earlier in the month—we all thought that was exciting-like and could hardly wait to buy more.

Cheaper gasoline prices mean more disposable cash to spend: A double-yahoo particularly at this time of year for everyone no matter what income level they are in.

And then there is Ebola. Clearly a deadly disease but worthy of a U.S. panic and quarantines focused on professionals treating it? No.

I know that Ebola has spread like crazy among the people within Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Their lack of education is one of the biggest reasons why.

But I got to wondering how many profession health care workers, like doctors and nurses and their assistants, who have been treating those sick with the disease in Western Africa have actually died from Ebola. So, I contacted Doctors Without Boarders to ask.

Here is what I learned from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF):

•MSF currently has 270 international staff members and more than 3,000 national (locally hired) staff members in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

•They are running six centers for Ebola centers (two each in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) with approximately 600 beds for patients in isolation.

•There have been more than 700 international staff members in the region since our March of this year.

•Since March, three MSF international staff members and 21 locally employed staff have fallen ill while battling the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Thirteen national staff members have sadly passed away.

Professionals generally agree that the best way to manage Ebola is by containing it. The docs and other professionals sent to West Africa to do so, are well-educated about the disease and dressed head-to-toe in hazmat outfits designed to limit any contact they might have with those infected. And that combo has been working.

Any loss of life from this disease is a tragedy. That said, if the number of professionals who have died from Ebola were considerably higher, I’d be more concerned about the possibilities of a national outbreak. Now, however, those outer space outfits seem to be doing the trick.

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