As the panic industry gears up to make its obligatory buck or two off the Ebola epidemic, the bastion of empirical sanity, PopMec, chimes in with some common public health sense:
However, despite its severity, Ebola is an unlikely candidate to cause widespread epidemics. Ebola outbreaks in humans begin with direct contact with an infected animal. In Africa, fruit bats are considered to be natural reservoirs for the disease, but chimps, gorillas, and antelopes are also known to carry the infection. Currently there are no natural reservoirs for Ebola outside of Africa, which means it’s a lot less likely that Ebola could establish itself anywhere else, says epidemiologist Stephen Morse, from Columbia University.
After the initial transmission from animal to person, the disease spreads from person to person through direct contact with the blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids of infected people. Compared to airborne diseases, which have pandemic potential, the spread of Ebola is slow because it relies on direct contact. And because it kills its victims so quickly, there isn’t much time to spread the disease to others.
In developed countries, the spread of Ebola can be thwarted by isolating infected patients and wearing protective clothing. “Standard hospital hygiene goes a long way,” says Matthias Borchert, an epidemiologist at Berlin’s Charité University of Medicine.
The bad news? US hospitals are bad enough at “hospital hygiene” that 75,000 people a year die of more mundane, less panic-worthy infections – Strep, C-Diff and an array of others deadly but less newsworthy bugs.
Read the whole thing, though, and pass it on to some of your less-informed friends.
This country is at less risk of a “zombie apocalypse” from any virus than from the news coverage about the virus.