What Are Your Chances of Contracting Ebola This Year?
When the phrase "first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States" began making its way around television and the internet, many Americans were, understandably, alarmed. Ebola is relatively easy to contract -- if one happens to come in to contact with someone who has it -- and its mortality rate can be around 70%. That's a scary number.
But here in the United States especially, it is important to keep things in perspective. The chance of contracting it and the mortality rate depends heavily on what you do for a living, how much you travel and where, and the level of healthcare you have access to.
An American who contracts Ebola -- or any virus, for that matter -- on average has access to much better care than someone residing in a third world region, therefore is more likely to survive it. And with only four known cases in the U.S. so far, your chances of coming in to contact with it in the first place are almost non-existent.
But it's true that Americans who frequently travel between here and West Africa, which is currently experiencing a strong Ebola epidemic, have an increased chance of contracting the virus -- and then bringing it home. Also at an increased risk for contracting and spreading it are the health care professionals who treat Ebola patients.
So, realistically speaking, what are the chances that you, as an American, will contract Ebola in the next year? NPR breaks it down for us, using a model of 12 imported cases (ones contracted overseas and carried back to the States) of the virus over the course of a year -- and compares it to our chances of meeting our end due to some other common fears:
1 in 13.3 million = chance of contracting Ebola in America in a year
1 in 11 million = chance of dying in an air plane crash for an American in a year
1 in 9.6 million = chance of dying from a lightning strike for an American in a year
1 in 5.2 million = chance of dying from a bee sting for an American in a year
1 in 3.7 million = chance of being killed by a shark worldwide in a year
1 in 9,100 = chance of being killed in a car accident in America in a year
But here's the really scary number:
1 in 5,000 = chance of contracting Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia IN A WEEK
So the odds say that here in America -- where our likelihood of coming in to contact with the virus are very low, and our access to decent healthcare is more prevalent -- we're going to be okay.