The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Diseases, illnesses, and infections, oh my!


Since the end of September, the only thing on peoples’ minds is Ebola, and whether or not they’ll catch it. Stories are flooding the media about how someone coming from Africa will bring Ebola with them and infect everyone who lives in the United States.

That being said, there is one concrete fact for everyone living in the United States: the best chance you have for catching Ebola while living stateside is breaking into the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and licking a petri dish with an Ebola culture on it.

With that in mind, here are five diseases, illnesses and infections deadlier than Ebola that you can catch at home.

Bubonic Plague: Over the past thirty years, somewhere between one- and two-thousand cases of Bubonic Plague (one of the diseases associated with the Black Death) have been reported every year. In that same timeframe, only 56 people have died from this disease.  Recent discoveries by the CDC have led to the information that the plague is, in fact, carried by rodents currently living in the United States. If you plan on going camping in the Midwest at any point, avoid the chipmunks. Other animals to avoid include marmots, groundhogs, woodchucks, and anything in the Family Sciuridae.

Seasonal Influenza: Over the past decade (2003-2013), the CDC has reported somewhere around 55,065 deaths from the seasonal flu. This is mostly due to the fact that people in the United States aren’t taking precautions like staying away from people when they’re sick or getting a vaccine (for those who can get one without risking serious harm to themselves). Due to the nature of the flu, the number of cases reported is not recorded on the CDC website, but it probably numbers in the high millions. Yes, you are more likely to catch the flu and die than to have the same thing happen with Ebola.

Whooping Cough: According to the CDC website, somewhere between 10 and 40 thousand new cases of whooping cough are reported each year, contributing to the 16 million cases a year reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s figures also put the death toll per year at somewhere around 195,000 people. In 2010, over 27,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States. Most of the cases reported in the United States were due to the fact that some people refuse to vaccinate their children for the basic things like the flu, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and other easily preventable diseases and illnesses.

Tuberculosis (TB): In 2013, 9,852 verified cases of TB were reported in the United States.  Around the world, nine million cases are reported a year, and about 1.3 million people die.  Tuberculosis is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world (the CDC and WHO estimate that about one-third of the world’s population has or has had TB). There are currently two categories of TB–latent and disease (one is incubating in a host body, and the other is an active agent)–active around the world. Both categories have drug treatment programs that can prevent the spread of the disease or kill it before it becomes active. However, if not treated, TB will be fatal and spread.

Malaria: Malaria is currently one of the deadliest illnesses in the world, caused by a parasitic infection of a Plasmodium parasite (transmitted by mosquitos). The WHO estimates that approximately 207 million cases of malaria exist around the world, and roughly 627,000 deaths occurred. The CDC reports that 97 cases of transfusion-transmitted malaria have occurred in the United States between 1963 and 2011, although there was a 40-year high reported in 2011, topping out at 1925 reported cases. The CDC also reports that somewhere between 1,500-2,000 people, mostly travelers, have caught malaria while abroad.

Now, about Ebola…

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