2014 was the year of Ebola! Panic spread as many people predicted an epidemic of Ebola in the United States. Some people called for a travel ban in Ebola-endemic areas. The reality was a different story as only four laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola occurred in America. Jay Harold expects similar predictions of doom about Ebola in 2015.
How do you know if you have seasonal influenza or Ebola? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the differences between the Influenza and Ebola. Influenza is a respiratory disease that is spread primarily from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Ebola virus is not a respiratory disease and is only spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola. Seasonal influenza and Ebola virus infection can cause some similar symptoms. However, of these viruses, your symptoms are most likely caused by seasonal flu. Millions of people are infected by the flu, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands die from the flu each year. In the United States, fall and winter are the time for the flu. While the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary, outbreaks often begin in October and can last as late as May. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February.
Flu is Common; Ebola is Rare!
In the United States, infections with Ebola virus have been exceedingly uncommon. There is a widespread transmission of Ebola virus disease in West Africa. It is usually not possible to determine whether a patient has seasonal influenza or Ebola infection based on symptoms alone. However, there are tests to detect seasonal influenza and Ebola infection. Your doctor will determine if you should be tested for these illnesses based on your symptoms, clinical presentation, and recent travel or exposure history.
The reasons to worry more about the Flu over Ebola are numerous for people living in the United States:
- CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. There were no deaths of persons who contracted Ebola in the United States.
- Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with a flu cough, sneeze or talk. Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food. Scientists believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate (apes and monkeys). Person-to-person transmission follows and can lead to large numbers of affected people. Coming in contact with an infected animal doesn’t occur in the United States (hopefully).
- Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids. Ebola also can be spread through direct contact with objects (like clothes, bedding, needles, syringes/sharps or medical equipment) that have been contaminated with infected body fluids. This is what probably occurred with the nurses in Dallas. Ebola symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
Jay Harold wants you to take control of your health. The CDC has an Overview of Influenza in the United States that gives you detailed information about what’s happening. The CDC also produces a weekly Fluview report, which gives you even more information.
David Russell said, “The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” Many African-Americans seniors refuse to take the Flu Vaccine. Only 48% of Black seniors took the flu shot according to a study. Jay Harold is acutely aware of the past misdeeds of the American healthcare system toward African-Americans. Jay Harold believes that Flu shots benefit people and reduce deaths. You must decide.