Terrified that you’re going to catch the latest deadly virus?
Ebola and Enterovirus 68 may be grabbing all the headlines these days, but you’re far more likely to catch – and die from – the flu, rather than either of these high-profile illnesses.
Here are three reasons you should be more concerned about the flu than Ebola or Enterovirus 68:
1. The flu is far more widespread in the United States.
So far there have been just a handful of Ebola cases throughout the country, and most of those patients caught the disease in West Africa before coming to the United States for treatment. There has only been one case of Ebola diagnosed on U.S. soil, and that patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, had recently arrived here from Liberia (he died this morning).
Enterovirus has been diagnosed in recent months in more than 600 patients in 44 states. The virus has been particularly rampant among young children, who have been catching and spreading it in preschool and daycare. Babies, children and teens are the most susceptible (they don’t have the immunity of adults).
By contrast, the flu sends hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital every year and affects more than 5 percent of the population, according to the CDC.
2. The flu spreads more easily than Ebola.
Unlike Ebola, the flu and Enterovirus 68 are airborne, which means these illnesses can be spread like a cold. If one person coughs or sneezes on his or her hand and then touches a surface, anyone else touching that surface could catch the virus.
Ebola, on the other hand, is spread through direct contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids; through contaminated objects (such as needles and syringes); or through infected animals, according to the CDC.
3. The flu is way more deadly.
The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that Enterovirus 68 claimed its first victim last month, a four-year-old New Jersey boy who passed away after contracting the virus at preschool. Duncan, the Dallas Ebola patient, became that virus’ first U.S. victim this morning.
By comparison, the flu kills up to 49,000 people every year. So, worry all you want about Ebola – but make sure to get your flu shot.
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