With all the news about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa it is hard not to be concerned. But how worried should we be?
The virus is highly infectious, as little a 10 virus particles are needed to infect a host. However, the virus is not easily transmitted. It does not survive on surfaces very long, unlike the common cold and flu viruses. Ebola is not particularly a respiratory ailment, so it is unclear if it is spread by coughing, but the general feeling is that it isn’t.
Ebola is mostly transmitted to the patient’s caregiver. Even in Africa where the disease is having its biggest impact, children that are not caring for the patient are not often infected. So unless you are in direct contact with an infected individual you really should not be too concerned with getting sick and dying.
So why is there so much hysteria around this virus in North America? Mostly because the news media is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. They need to keep people on the edge and addicted to the news reports so they sensationalize the situation.
There are easily a dozen things that are more worthy of our worry than the spread of ebola, but that is another post.