Ebola

News & Information About Ebola

Tag: flu

Ebola VS Swine Flu

The term “swine flu” can be a little misleading. In reality swine flu is a term coined to describe the 2009 H1N1 outbreak of influenza. The swine flu pandemic was the second H1N1 pandemic recorded with the first being the 1918 “Spanish Flu” which claimed between 20 and 100 million lives.

Swine flu vs ebola

Image of H1N1 influenza virus, taken in the CDC Influenza Laboratory.

H1N1 is easily treated in modern hospitals and the case fatality rate is low compared to Ebola. Vaccination is possible with sufficient antibody production reached in approximate ten days. Considering the short generation time for the virus and airborne transmission it would pose a significant risk without a vaccine or modern medicine as it did in 1918. H1N1 strains of flu are notable for their lack of discrimination; the strain infects all age groups unlike other types of flu which have a greater effect on children and the elderly.

Trait Ebola Virus Swine Flu
R 0 2.2 Mean ~1.16-1.75
Generation Time 5 (CDC), 11 (WHO) 2.4-3.1 days
Mortality Rate 25-90% / ~70% 2014 Outbreak 0.03% (2009)
Airborne No Yes
Waterborne No No
Primary Transmission Bodily Fluids (Almost All) Airborne
Vaccine In Trials Yes
Primary Hosts Humans, Primates, Bats Swine, Humans
Type RNA Virus RNA Virus
Deaths per Annum Very Low Prior to 2014 Relatively Low, 2009 outbreak ~15000
Largest known Outbreak 2013/14 West Africa 1918 “Spanish Flu” and 2009 “Swine flu”
First Isolated 1976 Novel “Swine Flu” 2009
Last Pandemic Never Recorded 2009-2010
Patient Isolation Required No
Contact Tracing Required No
Possible Age Thousands of Years Thousands of Years

The above table shows Swine Flu vs Ebola on a basic level. Symptomatic comparisons are not provided since there is no current outbreak of H1N1. However there is a page for the comparison of the symptoms between Ebola and Influenza.

The 2009 outbreak of “Swine flu” saw at least 600000 confirmed cases globally. The pandemic was declared as over in 2010 by the World Health Organization. The virus has a lower R0 than Ebola but a significantly faster generation time.

The 2009 pandemic attracted controversial opinions from critics around the world claiming that the media and global health organizations had inflated the perceived risk in order to encourage vaccination.

Symptoms of Ebola VS Flu/Malaria/HIV

Generally the symptoms of Ebola are described as “flu like”. It is common for viral infections to present themselves with similar symptoms in the early stages of infection while the body begins to fight the virus. The following table compares the symptoms of Ebola to other common diseases endemic to Africa.

Symptom Ebola Influenza Common Cold HIV Stage 1 Malaria
Abdominal Pain Common Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Bleeding Gums Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Bleeding Orifaces Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Chest Pain Less Common Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Convulsions Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Cough Common Common Common Uncommon Common
Diarrhea Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Common
Extreme Fatigue Common Common Uncommon Less Common Less Common
Fatigue Common Common Less Common Common Common
Fever Common Common Common Common Common
Genital Sores Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common Uncommon
Headaches Common Common Less Common Common Common
Hiccups Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Jaundice Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Joint Pain Common Common Less Common Common Common
Loss of Appetite Common Less Common Less Common Uncommon Common
Mouth Sores Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common Uncommon
Muscle Pain Common Less Common Less Common Less Common Common
Nasal Congestion Less Common Common Common Less Common Less Common
Nausea Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Common
Paroxysms Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common
Rash Common Less Common Uncommon Common Less Common
Red Eyes Common Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common
Runny Nose Less Common Common Common Less Common Less Common
Shivering Less Common Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Common
Shortness of Breath Less Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Less Common
Sneezing Less Common Common Less Common Less Common Less Common
Sore Throat Less Common Common Common Uncommon Uncommon
Tender Lymph Nodes Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common Uncommon
Throat Inflamation Uncommon Less Common Uncommon Common Less Common
Trouble Swallowing Less Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Less Common
Vomiting Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Common
Watering Eyes Less Common Common Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Weight Loss Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Less Common

The symptoms across most common viral infections are very similar which results in difficulty diagnosing Ebola without a blood test. If you are wondering what the single symptom to look out for is the answer is hiccups. Although not all Ebola patients get hiccups it is common clue that further investigation may be required.

Disclaimer: The above table is based on publicly available knowledge and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis. If you suspect that you have come into contact with Ebola and experience symptoms seek urgent medical attention. It may save your life.

Ebola vs Influenza

The Ebola Virus and Influenza share symptoms in the early stages as both are RNA viruses resulting in a consistent immune response upon infection. Flu has affected life on the planet for centuries and has been extensively studied over the last 100 years. Ebola on the other hand was a far more recent observation and has not seen the same level of attention prior to the 2014 outbreak. The below table attempts to compare some of the facts around Ebola and Influenza based on the information available.

A comparison of the symptoms is available here

Trait Ebola Virus Influenza
R0 2.2 Mean 1.3
Generation Time 5 (CDC), 11 (WHO) 2
Mortality Rate 25-90% / ~70% 2014 Outbreak Typically less than 1%
Airborne No Yes
Waterborne No No
Primary Transmission Bodily Fluids Airborne, Aerosol
Vaccine In Trials Yes, Seasonal
Primary Hosts Humans, Primates, Bats Mammals, Birds
Type RNA Virus RNA Virus
Deaths per Annum Very Low Prior to 2014 250000-500000
Largest known Outbreak 2013/14 West Africa 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
First Isolated 1976 1901
Last Pandemic Never Recorded 2009 (Swine Flu)
Patient Isolation Required No
Contact Tracing Required No
Possible Age Thousands of Years Thousands of Years

 

It is very interesting to note that Ebola has a higher R-naught value than the common flu virus indicating that it has a far greater potential to spread. In theory Ebola is only restrained by its generation/incubation time and possibly its methods of transmission. Ebola poses a very real threat considering the high mortality rate and lack of effective treatments available in the event of rapid transmission. Isolation is a significant part of combating the virus since its R0 drops to around 0.13 once a patient has been quarantined.

 

 

 

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