THE Ebola crisis in the West African countries of Guinea, where it started in December 2013, and spread in March 2014 to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, the deadliest ever in history, has been so well-covered in various media that it has eclipsed the notoriety of graver killer diseases in our midst today.

True, Ebola has a very high mortality rate ranging from 70 percent to 90 percent, 7 to 9 out of 10 persons infected with the virus would die.

As of Aug. 26, 2014, it has infected more than 3,068 and has killed about 1,552, 10 to 15 percent of them doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, mostly volunteers.

Ebola has caused global scare, but the reality is that you and I would have only a miniscule chance of getting Ebola compared to a far deadlier virus in our shores which many of us have encountered before but luckily survived it.

This greater killer will hit the United States, United Kingdom, most of the western hemisphere, and the Philippines among other Asian countries, and claim the lives of about half a million people worldwide by this time in 2015.

This would be 500 times more than the deaths from Ebola so far.

The illness I am referring to has no reliable cure and the vaccine available confers a short-term protection of only a few months, in spite of the advances in medicine.

This viral disease is the common regular seasonal flu (not the bird or swine flu) which could rapidly be transmitted airborne from person to person.

Another two diseases: From February 2014 since the Ebola outbreak started, tuberculosis has already killed more than 600,000, and malaria, more than 300,000.

These three diseases have resulted in far more deaths (200 to 300 times greater) than the Ebola infection, and yet the media have not reported them with such sensation and intensity as the Ebola infection.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids and injection with contaminated needle or sharp objects, and the virus is not airborne, not transmitted by droplet inhalation, unlike the flu, where the virus spreads rapidly from person to person near each other.

This is why experts feel Ebola could be contained by intensive public education, much easier than the flu pandemic, which visits us year after year.

In order not to be unreasonably scared and panic about this outbreak in West Africa, we must deal with the situation in a rational and scientific manner, learn all we can about Ebola and how we can avoid the infection.

Being vigilant and conscious about our habits and behavior is the key to preventing such a deadly infection.

The lessons from the Ebola outbreak underscore the importance of prevention in dealing with any infectious disease, bacterial, viral, protozoan, any of which could be serious and life threatening.

To extend this fundamental principle to other illnesses that kills, we have, today, effective ways to reduce the risks and deaths for dozens of ailments amidst us.

Example of this is smoking-related lung cancer that kills 127,000 people a year, in the United States alone.

If we add the mortalities from other tobacco-related illnesses, like COPD, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and congenital defects of babies whose mother smoked, the annual death rate goes up to more than half a million.

The figure for each disease alone is certainly much higher than that of this Ebola infection.

This deadly crisis could have a positive side to it, if we are wise enough to recognize it.

Hopefully, this devastating calamity would endow the peoples around the world with a new perspective on health, arming each and every earthling globally with knowledge, awareness and preventive vigilance, in dealing with our environment, with diseases in general, and with our own personal well-being and world health.

When this happens, those who died from Ebola, especially those selfless, compassionate and courageous healthcare workers, the real heroes of this devastating plague who risked their lives to save others, would not have died in vain.


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