Thursday, October 2, 2014

Akin to fear of flying

Putting Ebola's Risks Into Perspective

By Liz Szabo, Oct. 2, 2014,

The diagnosis of the first Ebola patient on U.S. soil this week may have put people in a panic, fearing the exotic virus more than mundane germs – such as influenza – that pose a far greater threat to the average American.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa – the largest in the 40-year history of the virus – has infected 7,178 and killed 3,338, according to the World Health Organization.

Still, because Ebola is rare and relatively difficult to transmit, it kills far fewer people than diseases of which Americans are no longer afraid, such as measles and influenza, says Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

"It's important to keep these things in perspective," says Lisa Maragakis, associate hospital epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

She compared Americans' fear of Ebola to the fear of flying. Though many people are afraid to fly, Maragakis points out that far more people are killed in cars.

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