Which disease is the greatest threat, Ebola or …?

EBOLA is a frightening disease, but others kill far more people without generating international alarm   The outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa is leading to panic-stricken headlines around the world. That's understandable: the disease has killed nearly 4,500 people since the current outbreak began.

But its death toll is dwarfed by the casualties inflicted day in, day out, by malaria and Aids. Even diarrhea kills almost seven times more people per day in the region .That does not necessarily mean that the risks of Ebola have been over-stated reports The Week.

What alarms the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, as well as residents of West Africa, is that transmission of Ebola appears to be accelerating. By contrast the toll from malaria, diarrhoea and Aids is regular and predictable.

Nevertheless, even if Ebola could quickly be brought under control, West Africa would still face a public health crisis – and one which it would face with far less international support.

Data sources: WHO, CDC, The Economist; Ebola figures from 8 Sep – 14 Oct 2014