What's scary about Ebola, reasons not to fear it

By

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States' top disease detective calls Ebola a "painful, dreadful, merciless virus."

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak in West Africa an international emergency, killing more than 900 people and spreading.

That's scary. But it also cries out for context.

AIDS alone takes more than a million lives per year in Africa.

Lung infections such as pneumonia are close behind as the No. 2 killer.

Malaria and diarrhea claim hundreds of thousands of African children each year.

In the U.S., where heart attacks and cancer are the biggest killers, the risk of contracting the Ebola virus is close to zero.

Americans fretting about their health would be better off focusing on getting a flu shot this fall.

Flu is blamed for about 24,000 U.S. deaths per year.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.