Ebola spreading rate compared to other diseases


Via Sploid by Jesus Diaz

Many people are freaking out about ebola, but the fact is that there’s no reason to panic because it spreads too slowly. Way slower than other infectious diseases. The graphic above shows it clearly: While a measles patient can infect a maximum of 18 people on average, an ebola patient can only infect two.

That’s what basic R0 means—the “maximum number of people who can catch the disease from one sick person, on average, in an outbreak” when “everyone in the population is susceptible to the disease.” This is also known as reproduction number or R nought.

Statistically, this means that the virus can easily be stopped in a highly developed country like the United States, which is why the CDC acted so cool about that patient in Texas. Sure, like any other deadly infectious disease, it’s something you don’t take lightly. But even while that patient was in contact with many people for days before getting quarantined, it’s very difficult for the virus to pass from person to person. The measles or the flu pass easily because the viruses are airborne. But ebola requires actual extensive contact with “bodily fluids like blood or vomit.”

Just another FYI: HIV is incredibly difficult to contract. Transmission probabilities is about .5% from a single act of anal sex with an infected person. But the reason why the R0 is higher for HIV than Ebola is that you can spread it while non symptomatic, and the incubation period (the period before symptoms) untreated is 5-7 years. So there’s just more time to spread it to other people, even though the transmission probability is really low. Ebola can only be spread when symptomatic, and the disease lasts only 5-10 days before either recovering or dying.

So take a look at the graphic again, breath, and relax. And try not to touch any blood or vomit. Just in case.



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