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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola or the Flu? -- The Symptoms are Almost Identical

News about the Ebola virus is everywhere these days, especially since it has now traveled into the U.S. Just how concerned should we be about getting Ebola, a potentially deadly disease?

How Ebola is spread

Ebola is not an airborne virus like influenza is. This means you have to actually have contact with someone who has Ebola. This includes direct contact with blood or bodily fluids through an open sore, wound, or the eyes, nose, or mouth of a person who has Ebola. According to health officials, this makes the risk of getting Ebola very low.

In fact, health officials say we should be more concerned right now about protecting ourselves from influenza, or flu, viruses by getting a flu shot. Why? According to Tim Timmons, Communicable Disease Program Supervisor with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, every year in the U.S. anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people die from flu-related illness. Timmons goes on to say that “The risk of getting cancer is a lot higher. “The risk of coming in contact with HIV and getting it through blood or sexual contact is a lot higher than coming into contact with someone who has Ebola.”

Should we ignore Ebola?

Certainly not! Timmons' comments are merely putting the Ebola disease into proper perspective. It is necessary for people to be informed of Ebola symptoms but health officials do not recommend unnecessary alarm or panic regarding Ebola. But what individuals and families should be doing right now is getting flu shots to help prepare them for the upcoming influenza season. Also, since the early signs of Ebola are similar to flu symptoms, it is good to know the difference between the two.

For more information on the symptoms of Ebola and the flu and how to tell the difference, visit
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