As news of the successful cure of the last known case of Ebola in the United States makes headlines, we're faced with the question: How concerned should we be about Ebola right now?
The answer isn't black and white—while we may be clear of the disease in America for now, Ebola continues to ravage areas of West Africa, which can become our problem, quickly. And despite the effective treatment and cure of eight out of nine cases stateside, inadequacies in Americans' preparedness and approach to the virus have been exposed.
Yet, with all the focus on Ebola, it would seem that we're not paying enough attention to the flu. Influenza, which is often confused with the common cold, is a serious infectious disease. According to William Schafer, the former president of the National Infectious Disease Foundation, influenza kills about 36,000 people in the U.S every year. That's over seven times the amount of the lifespan of the current outbreak of Ebola, in just a year (influenza also places another 200,000 Americans in the hospital every year).
The difference between the flu and Ebola is that Americans can secure a flu vaccination fairly easy, with vaccinations available at many locations including in-store pharmacies. Unfortunately, on average, only one out of every three Americans get vaccinated. It's important to note that getting vaccinated does not guarantee that you won't catch the flu, but gives the rest of us a better fighting chance.
So should you still be concerned about Ebola? Of course, but there's a bigger picture to keep in mind. For more on this issue, check out the video above.