Ricochet News

Ebola: Five Viruses That Are Worse

By Tai Chishakwe - Oct 9, 2014
Ebola: Five Viruses That Are Worse

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has seen a few thousand people dying, others infected and more than a million people quarantined. With studies (or more of concerns) hinting that the current Ebola outbreak could spread further, the world has been gripped by fear and uncertainty.

Many countries and governments are now scampering to improve their Ebola detection at points of entry such as airports and harbours and bolster their medical facilities in case they may need to use them. 

On Thursday, South Africa is still to learn if a man admitted to the Potchefstroom Hospital has Ebola. The has been isolated after he showed signs of haemorrhagic fever, the North West health department. Staff who may have come into contact with him have also reportedly been isolated.  

It seems Ebola could be the disease of the apocalypse, does it not? … But in actual fact - although the outbreak in West Africa is extremely serious, the virus is not what most panicked communities think it is!

Unless the virus mutates and becomes airborne, there is little chance of it spreading to most parts of the world as it has among impoverished communities in West Africa. So here are five viruses that should be panicked about instead…

1. Influenza

Unlike Ebola, influenza outbreaks occur consistently throughout the world. Studies suggest that the influenza virus kills about 35 000 people each year —in the United States alone.

Influenza is spread via droplets through the air, while Ebola spreads by touching infected bodies, or a surface that’s contaminated, and then touching your eyes or mouth. Scientists agree that the current infectivity rate of Ebola is a lot lower than that of the influenza virus.

That is why it is recommend that you get an annual flu shot.

2. Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis is the second-deadliest infection in the world period. It infects more than 8.6 million people per year and kills 1.3 million worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Like influenza, the Tuberculosis virus can spread easily, in the air and from coughing.

While Ebola has received attention because it is out of control, it is usually tuberculosis (and drug-resistant TB) that is a huge concern in Africa and other poor regions.


Did you know that each year, HIV/AIDS kills more than a million Africans — far more than every Ebola outbreak in history added together.

In 2011, HIV/AIDS killed 1.7 million people worldwide while an estimated 34 million were still living with the condition, according to AVERT, a UK-based HIV/AIDS charity.

4. Malaria

No its not a virus, Malaria is caused by an infection of the red blood cells with a tiny organism or parasite called a protozoa – but we thought it deserves a mention. Besides HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, Malaria is actually a huge problem in Africa.

In 2012, the mosquito-borne disease killed an estimated 627 000 people worldwide - mostly among African children, according to WHO. An estimated 207 million cases were reported that year.

5. Measles, Mumps and RubellaPrev

Measles, Mumps and RubellaPrev are easier to transmit than Ebola, but rarely get attention because they are so easy to prevent. Morden vaccines now also offer more than 95% protection from each disease, but outbreaks continue to pop up in communities that refuse the vaccine.

In 2014, there were about 47 000 cases of measles in the Philippines from January through to June.

Measles is much more infectious than Ebola!