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Ebola: Separating Myth Versus Reality

Doctor putting on gloves

Myth: It is just a matter of time until Ebola takes hold in the United States.

Reality: The chances that Ebola will enter the United States and spread to the general population is extremely unlikely. The U.S. public health system and medical systems like Johns Hopkins are well prepared to identify and isolate a patient and to contain any spread of the disease.

Myth: I could catch Ebola by sitting next to someone who has it.

Reality: The CDC says the chances of this happening are very unlikely. The Ebola virus does not spread like the flu; it spreads through direct contact with the blood, secretions or other body fluids of ill people. It can also be spread by “indirect contact,” such as contact with needles contaminated with these fluids.

Myth: Ebola is the most dangerous disease that humans have ever encountered.

Reality: This isn’t true. While the mortality rate for the current outbreak is about 55 percent, the total number of people who have died in the outbreak is about 1,400 worldwide. In the 1300's, the Plague killed between 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. And according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 36 million people have died since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1981, and 1.6 million people died of HIV/AIDS in 2012 alone.