Ebola vs. Flu: Know the difference

Ebola vs. Flu: Know the difference

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 53,667 people in the United States died from influenza in 2011. Ebola has resulted in around 5,000 deaths in the world this year.

Seasonal influenza, also known as “the flu” infects the respiratory track through influenza viruses, according to the CDC.

The most common way the flu is spread is through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. It can also be transmitted from up to about 6 feet away or even by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose, according to the CDC.

The best preventative measure for seasonal flu is a yearly flu vaccination.

Ebola Virus Disease is spread through direct contact of broken skin, mucous membranes, blood or body fluids from a person who is already sick with the disease, according to the CDC.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food, according to the CDC. The outbreaks of Ebola in Africa are believed to be due to hunting wild animals for food and coming in contact with infected bats.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit the Ebola virus.

The Federal Drug Administration has not yet approved a vaccine for Ebola. According to the CDC, the best way to prevent contracting Ebola is to wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.

It is important to avoid holding items that may have come in contact with an infected person's blood or body fluids such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment, according to the CDC. Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates for blood, fruits and raw meat prepared from these animals.

The flu and Ebola viruses share several symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, weakness and vomiting.

The flu will cause a cough and a sore throat. Most people with the flu recover in a few day and less than 2 weeks, according to the CDC. People who are older than 65 years of age, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and young children are more likely to contract seasonal flu.

Ebola causes unexplained hemorrhages and abdominal pain. According to the CDC, symptoms of Ebola may appear anywhere from 2-21 days after exposure, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

For more information on Ebola Virus Disease or seasonal flu, contact the Center for Disease Control at


or by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). This line will accommodate English and Spanish.