Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola Statistics

The news cycle is currently focused on Ebola, and if you haven't noticed, then you really need to pay attention to the world around you.  :-)  It's important, however, to put Ebola in perspective.  Yes, Ebola is a very deadly virus and we should not underestimate the importance of controlling its spread.  At the same time, however, we need to make sure that we aren't exaggerating the possible spread of Ebola.  Right now Ebola is about the only thing the news and politicians alike are discussing.  There's even a politician saying that anyone found with Ebola should be "humanely executed."  Wow...just a tad bid overboard I'd say.

Now that may be a very extreme comment, but many politicians are asking for travel bans from West Africa to the U.S.  Let's look at the statistics and let's begin with a humorous look at the statistics.  You may have seen the following image trending on Facebook.

Yes, it is a silly comparison, but also a true comparison.  Kim Kardashian is only 34 years old and been married 3 times.  Ebola has killed exactly 0 people who contracted it while in the United States.  At the time I write this, 3 people have officially contracted Ebola within the U.S. borders.  The first, a nurse in Texas, is in good condition and appears to be on the path for a complete recovery.  This doesn't mean that no one who contracts Ebola in the United States will die or that there won't be more cases.  Personally, I doubt we will see a number greater than 10 for number of Ebola cases contracted within the U.S.  

Again, we should not underestimate the threat of Ebola and we should put every REASONABLE measure in place to prevent the spread.  I wish that U.S. citizens would take other common viruses just as seriously.  Take a look at the graph below.

In this graph the 1 Ebola death comes from the patient first diagnosed in the U.S., but contracted it while in West Africa.  Take a look at the flu deaths over the same 9 day period?  WOW!  Why are people not as worried about the flu as they are of Ebola?  Yes, if one contracts Ebola, that person is much more likely to die than a person who contracts the flu.  The flu, however, is an airborne virus that is much easier to spread from person to person than the bodily fluid-borne Ebola virus.

If you are scared of contracting and dying from Ebola, then I must assume you are 1,110 times more scared of dying from the flu virus.  No?  Based on death statistics, you should be.

My point is that yes, we need to be serious about Ebola, but we need to be just as serious about other diseases.  Ebola is simply NOT something to be worried about.

For a more detailed description of Ebola, check out the Mayo Clinic.

For more information on the number of Ebola cases in the U.S., check out the following link from the CDC.

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