When an epidemic steals thousands of lives, including those of health workers trying to stop it from spreading, it creates fear and panic in ways that are almost unimaginable.
Though it has been around since 1976, occasionally striking Africa, Ebola, named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo where it was first detected has no cure or vaccine.
To say that Ebola has wreaked havoc is an understatement. It is arguably the biggest public health concern at the moment — at least in places where it is raging. Yet the fear and panic generated by Ebola is making many lose sight of the fact that treatable diseases, such as malaria, remain the biggest killer diseases on the African continent.
Yet the World Health Organization’s most recent statistics on malaria suggest that every 30 seconds someone in Africa succumbs to the disease, which is transmitted through mosquito bites.
“In 2012, 90 percent of the world’s malaria deaths occurred in Africa and about 460,000 African children died before their fifth birthdays,” the WHO 2013 malaria report said.
History always repeats itself. It always seems to be around this time of the year the media drives the fear in to people along with the World Health Organization in creating false pandemics. In 2009 the H1N1 swine Flu was prime example of this. The CDC reported that about 12,000 people fell victim to the H1N1 in the US that year. From the regular Flu in the US, 30,000 people die each year and 500,000 people worldwide. Ebola transmission between natural reservoir and humans is rare, and outbreaks are usually traceable to a single case where an individual has handled the carcass of gorilla, chimpanzee, or duiker. Fruit bats are also eaten by people in parts of West Africa where they are smoked, grilled or made into a spicy soup. If you eat diseased animals, expect to get diseases those animals carry. It’s that simple. The media is more deadly than this virus will ever be. This blog was intended to point out some interesting statistics in comparison to other diseases. More will follow in a future blog.