How 5 Alarming Diseases Stack Up Against Ebola

Published October 18, 2014
Updated January 11, 2018
Published October 18, 2014
Updated January 11, 2018

With three confirmed Ebola cases in the United States, people can’t stop talking about what would happen if a full-blown outbreak rampaged throughout the country. Thankfully, experts–which doesn’t necessarily include the media–are pretty certain that there’s no potential for a Walking Dead-like spread of the alarming disease.

While the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa was reported in March 2014, Ebola virus disease (EVD) was first discovered in 1976. Yet Ebola isn’t the first alarming disease to raise eyebrows in the United States. The infographic below shows which serious infectious diseases have topped America’s Disease Watchlist for more than a century. Keep reading to learn more about how these alarming diseases stack up against Ebola.

Alarming Diseases Infographic

Source: Forbes


There is no shortage of comparisons between the early hysteria surrounding AIDS and today’s obsession with Ebola. Of course, Ebola is spread much more easily than HIV-AIDS, but the window for affecting another individual is also much smaller, as a person is only contagious when exhibiting symptoms. With easy dissemination of information via the internet, experts hope to change the conversation about Ebola early on, distancing this outbreak from the unfair stigmas that once surfaced from fears about AIDS.

Vintage AIDS Poster

An AIDS advertisement from the 1980s that is meant to stop public misinformation. Source: The Verge

Typhoid Fever

The CDC estimates that 5,700 cases of typhoid fever occur each year in the US, a number that seems pretty low until you realize that the illness affects about 21.5 million people worldwide each year. Like Ebola, typhoid fever cannot be transmitted by simply spending time with an affected person. Instead, the virus lives in an affected individual’s bloodstream and intestinal tract, and is spread only through consuming food that has been contaminated by the feces or urine of infected people.

Alarming Diseases Typhoid Fever

A public awareness poster from the early 20th century explains how water treatment reduced the spread of typhoid fever. Source: SCPHRP

Kiri Picone
Bay Area transplant Kiri Picone is a writer and marketer who loves bizarre news and the color purple.