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5 diseases scarier than ebola (and greater threats to US safety)

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This story was updated at 9:20 am ET on Aug. 20.

The Ebola virus has now killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa. Although the mortality rate of the most recent outbreak isn't as high as in previous events, it's still the case that most people who become infected with Ebola will not survive. (The mortality rate is about 60 percent for the current outbreak, compared with 90 percent in the past, according to the National Institutes of Health.)

But despite this somber prognosis, health experts in the United States aren't particularly worried about the threat of Ebola in this countryor in other developed countries.

"I see Ebola as a significant threat in the specific regions that it has been identified in, certainly central and west Africa," said Cecilia Rokusek, a public health expert with Nova Southeastern University's Institute for Disaster and Emergency Preparedness in Florida. "But in my opinion, it's not an imminent threat for those in the United States." [7 Devastating Infectious Diseases]

Indeed, other viruses pose a larger threat to U.S. citizens, according to Rokusek.


Although some of these viruses have far lower mortality rates than that of Ebola, they are more prevalent in developed nations, and kill more people annually than Ebola does. Here are five viruses that are just as dangerous (if not more so) than Ebola:

Rabies

Over the past 100 years, rabies has declined significantly as a public health threat in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately two people now die yearly in the United States from this virus, which is transmitted to people through saliva when they are bitten by infected animals, such as dogs or bats.

People who know they have been bitten by an animal should receive the rabies vaccine, which prevents infection by the virus, according to the CDC. But, especially in the case of bat bites, people may not always realize they have been bitten.

And rabies has one of the highest fatality rates of any virus; only three people in the United States are known to have ever survived the disease without receiving the vaccine after exposure to the virus.

Still, the disease remains a greater threat in other areas of the world than in the United States. Approximately 55,000 people die of rabies every year in Africa and Asia, according to the WHO.

HIV

Though the number of annual deaths related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has declined in recent years, an estimated 1.6 million people worldwide died of HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) related causes in 2012, according to the WHO. The virus attacks a person's immune cells and weakens the immune system over time, making it very difficult for the infected individual to fight off other diseases.

About 15,500 people with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2010 in the United States, according to the CDC. In total, an estimated 650,000 people have died of AIDS in the United States since the disease was discovered in 1981. An estimated 36 million people have died worldwide from the epidemic.

Today, people with HIV do live longer than they used to, a trend that coincides with the increased availability of antiretroviral therapy, as well as the decline in new infections since the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1997. However, no cure for HIV exists.

Influenza

The flu may not sound very scary, but it kills far more people every year than Ebola does. The exact number of people who die each year from seasonal flu virus is the subject of much debate, but the CDC puts the average number of annual deaths in the United States somewhere between 3,000 and 49,000.

The large variation in yearly deaths arises because many flu deaths are not reported as such, so the CDC relies on statistical methods to estimate the number. Another reason for this wide range is that annual flu seasons vary in severity and length, depending on what influenza viruses are most prominent. In years when influenza A (H3N2) viruses are prominent, death rates are typically more than double what they are in seasons when influenza A (H1N1) or influenza B viruses predominate, according to the CDC.

A highly contagious virus, influenza sickens far more people than it kills, with an estimated 3 million to 5 million people becoming seriously ill yearly from influenza viruses. Worldwide, the flu causes an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Despite the relatively low mortality rate of the virus, public health professionals and doctors recommend annual flu shots to keep the risk of complications from influenza at bay.

"Healthy people should get their vaccines every year," Rokusek told Live Science. "Studies have shown that the flu vaccine is an effective preventative measure."

But flu vaccines, which offer immunity from influenza A and B viruses, do not protect against other forms of influenza, which can arise when the virus undergoes genetic changes. New strains of the flu result in higher than average mortality rates globally. The most recent influenza pandemic, the "swine flu" or H1N1 pandemic, killed between 151,700 and 575,400 people globally during 2009 and 2010, according to the CDC.

Mosquito-borne viruses

Spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, viruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever kill more than 50,000 people worldwide every year, according to estimates by the WHO and the CDC. (Malaria — which is also spread by mosquitos, but is caused by a parasite rather than a virus — kills more than 600,00 people yearly.)

At least 40 percent of the world's population, or about 2.5 billion people, are at risk of serious illness and death from mosquito-borne viral diseases, according to the CDC.

Dengue fever, which is endemic to parts of South America, Mexico, Africa and Asia, claims approximately 22,000 lives every year, according to the CDC. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a deadly infection that causes high fevers and can lead to septic shock.

These diseases occur in regions neighboring the United States, making them a threat in this country.

"Dengue is very active in the Caribbean, and travelers to the Caribbean come back to the United States with dengue," said Dr. Robert Leggiadro, a New York physician and professor of biology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]

People infected with dengue while traveling abroad can spread the disease at home when mosquitos bite them, and then bite other people, Leggiadro said.

Even more deadly than dengue is yellow fever, which mostly affects people in Latin America and Africa. The disease causes an estimated 30,000 deaths worldwide, according to the WHO.

Less deadly, but still dangerous is West Nile virus, a viral neurological disease that is spread by mosquitos that bite humans after feasting on birds infected with the virus. Although the vast majority of people infected with this virus will not show symptoms of West Nile, the disease has killed an estimated 1,200 people in the United States since it was first seen here in 1999, according to the CDC.

Rotavirus

Not everyone is at high risk of contracting rotavirus, but for children around the world, this gastrointestinal virus is a very serious problem. Approximately 111 million cases of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus are reported every year globally, according to the CDC. The vast majority of those affected by the virus are children under the age of 5, and about 82 percent of deaths associated with the virus occur in children in developing nations.

Globally, an estimated 440,000 children who contract the virus die each year from complications, namely dehydration. In the United States, a vaccine for rotavirus was developed in 1998, but was later recalled due to safety concerns. A newer vaccine, developed in 2006, is now available and is recommended for children ages 2 months and older.

Despite routine vaccinations for rotavirus in the United States, the CDC estimates that between 20 and 60 children under age 5 die every year from untreated dehydration caused by the virus.

While some parents in the United States have expressed concern about the complications that may arise as a result of vaccinating for rotavirus, Leggiadro told Live Science that vaccination for this and other preventable diseases is the best way to safeguard against diseases that, if left untreated, can be deadly.

source

So how about that? 55 000 dead in Africa and Asia for Rabies, what are we at, 5000 for ebola? Why are we so scared of ebola?


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One can try to minimize or politicize the threat of Ebola all you want, but it does not change the facts.

These other diseases have some treatments (but generally not cures) available; Ebola does not. Many of the others listed often give rise to mild, indolent infections. Ebola is deadly. And it is not just having this incurable disease itself that is most alarming. It is the rapidity of spread of Ebola and the quick demise of those affected. Equating any of these other infections with Ebola is ludicrous.


Hillary Lied. People Died.

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the correct spelling is: obola

I don't get this constant need to turn Obama into some sort of half-arsed pun. What's the thinking?

One can try to minimize or politicize the threat of Ebola all you want, but it does not change the facts.

These other diseases have some treatments (but generally not cures) available; Ebola does not. Many of the others listed often give rise to mild, indolent infections. Ebola is deadly. And it is not just having this incurable disease itself that is most alarming. It is the rapidity of spread of Ebola and the quick demise of those affected. Equating any of these other infections with Ebola is ludicrous.

No it isn't.

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One can try to minimize or politicize the threat of Ebola all you want, but it does not change the facts.

These other diseases have some treatments (but generally not cures) available; Ebola does not. Many of the others listed often give rise to mild, indolent infections. Ebola is deadly. And it is not just having this incurable disease itself that is most alarming. It is the rapidity of spread of Ebola and the quick demise of those affected. Equating any of these other infections with Ebola is ludicrous.

Once you show a symptom of rabies, you die. End of story. 15 000 people die each year from rabies. There have been THREE known cases where a person survived after showing symptoms. The vaccine prevents infection, yes, for some lucky people, but otherwise, you die. Slowly. Painfully. Its death rates are higher than the worst strains of ebola, which the current one is not. It spreads MUCH faster than ebola in affected areas, because the initial symptoms are not very visible at all and it can be spread by animals.

How can you say that diseases with higher death numbers in developed nations than ebola has ever had are not so bad? Methinks you have bought into the ridiculous ebola panic that the media is giving us.

The US and, indeed, most of North America, is safe from ebola. It is NOT safe from the diseases listed here.

Therefore, US budgetary resources should be more highly focussed on these diseases than on ebola.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

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May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

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Once you show a symptom of rabies, you die. End of story. 15 000 people die each year from rabies. There have been THREE known cases where a person survived after showing symptoms. The vaccine prevents infection, yes, for some lucky people, but otherwise, you die. Slowly. Painfully. Its death rates are higher than the worst strains of ebola, which the current one is not. It spreads MUCH faster than ebola in affected areas, because the initial symptoms are not very visible at all and it can be spread by animals.

How can you say that diseases with higher death numbers in developed nations than ebola has ever had are not so bad? Methinks you have bought into the ridiculous ebola panic that the media is giving us.

The US and, indeed, most of North America, is safe from ebola. It is NOT safe from the diseases listed here.

Therefore, US budgetary resources should be more highly focussed on these diseases than on ebola.

No cure for flu either, you've just got to ride it out. And it's airborne

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It kills tens of thousands a year, too. Every year.

Lower fatality rate but much higher infectivity. Flu could conceivably overwhelm a countrys health system.

You won't see an ebola epidemic in modern developed nations because we have better health infrastructure than places like liberia , Nigeria or Sierra Leone.

Contrast that with Spanish flu which took hold at a time when there wasn't an organised health system... Millions died.

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Once you show a symptom of rabies, you die. End of story. 15 000 people die each year from rabies. There have been THREE known cases where a person survived after showing symptoms. The vaccine prevents infection, yes, for some lucky people, but otherwise, you die. Slowly. Painfully. Its death rates are higher than the worst strains of ebola, which the current one is not. It spreads MUCH faster than ebola in affected areas, because the initial symptoms are not very visible at all and it can be spread by animals.

How can you say that diseases with higher death numbers in developed nations than ebola has ever had are not so bad? Methinks you have bought into the ridiculous ebola panic that the media is giving us.

The US and, indeed, most of North America, is safe from ebola. It is NOT safe from the diseases listed here.

Therefore, US budgetary resources should be more highly focussed on these diseases than on ebola.

Far better to err on the side of caution. Even you cannot argue that any of the other diseases you listed are an immediate threat (which Ebola is). You have bought into this "everything is under control" nonsense being spit out by politicians.

One can "say that diseases with higher death numbers in developed nations than ebola has ever had are not so bad [your words]" because that is a fact. I am afraid you don't know a thing about epidemiology and are confusing prevalence with virulence.


Hillary Lied. People Died.

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Lower fatality rate but much higher infectivity. Flu could conceivably overwhelm a countrys health system.

You won't see an ebola epidemic in modern developed nations because we have better health infrastructure than places like liberia , Nigeria or Sierra Leone.

Contrast that with Spanish flu which took hold at a time when there wasn't an organised health system... Millions died.

This would be understood and a complete non-issue among the right wing nutters if there was a Republican in the White House. But there's a Democrat sitting there and a black one to boot. Hence, the sky is falling.

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No cure for flu either, you've just got to ride it out. And it's airborne

Definitely. I just picked rabies because the other individual said none of the diseases listed were as deadly as ebola.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

January 11, 2015: Send AOS package and Civil Documents
March 23, 2015: Case Complete at NVC. (70 days from when they received docs to CC)

May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

May 11, 2015: Visa in hand! One year less one day from NOA1.

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Soon syphilis will be up there too since it is often asymptomatic, very easily spread and very difficult to cure. There are also drug resistant strains doing the rounds now, very conceivable that it will become incurable.

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Definitely. I just picked rabies because the other individual said none of the diseases listed were as deadly as ebola.

Not as deadly holds true only when one uses "deadly" as a synonym for mortality rates. But when one looks at actual victims the disease claims, the flu and a host of other diseases are many times more deadly than Ebola. And many of them transmit far easier than Ebola. And yet, nobody would demand travel restrictions because of them.

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yet of all those listed, i would not expect anyone to pick being infected with ebola over any other on the list even if they were in the emergency room of a hospital.


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