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.
|Generation Time||5 (CDC), 11 (WHO)||2|
|Mortality Rate||25-90% / ~70% 2014 Outbreak||Typically less than 1%|
|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|
|Last Pandemic||Never Recorded||2009 (Swine Flu)|
|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.