Let’s be clear: The 2014 Ebola outbreak is a serious situation, and it certainly warrants the attention of public health authorities.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever has killed 2,484 people in Liberia and 1,200 people in Sierra Leone, according to the most recent estimates from the World Health Organization.
Even though only one person in the United States has died from Ebola – Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted the disease in Liberia – the outbreak has exposed vulnerabilities in the U.S. health care system, with one Texas hospital making headlines for its lack of preparedness and protocols to handle Ebola patients. Given the U.S. health care sector's miserable track record of protecting it workers from injuries and illnesses, there's legitimate concern over the safety and health of nurses and other caregivers treating Ebola patients here.
Still, compare one Ebola-related death in the United States with 4,405 work-related deaths in 2013, and it puts things in perspective.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola wouldn’t even make the list of the 20 leading causes of death in 2012. Tuberculosis, for example – which can be spread through the air – killed 935,000 people that year. HIV/AIDS killed 1.5 million people in 2012, making it the sixth-leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization. And CDC estimates that 284,000 people died from the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.