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Ebola: Separating Myth vs. Reality


Myth: It is just a matter of time until Ebola takes hold in the United States.

Reality: The chances that Ebola will enter the United States and spread to the general population is extremely unlikely. The U.S. public health system and medical systems like Johns Hopkins are well prepared to identify and isolate a patient, and to contain any spread of the disease.

Myth: I could catch Ebola by sitting next to someone on an airplane who has Ebola.

Reality: The CDC says the chances of this happening are very unlikely. The Ebola virus does not spread like the flu. It spreads through direct contact with the blood, secretions, or other body fluids of ill people. It can also be spread by “indirect contact,” such as contact with needles contaminated with these fluids.

Myth: Ebola is the most dangerous disease that humans have ever encountered.

Reality: This isn’t true. While the mortality rate for the current outbreak is about 55 percent, the total number of people who have died in the outbreak is about 1,400. Contrast that to HIV/AIDS. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 36 million people have died since the first cases were reported in 1981 and 1.6 million people died of HIV/ AIDS in 2012. In the 1300s the Plague killed between 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population.