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Is Ebola Spread by Bugs?

Insects have plagued humanity since the days of cavemen and cavewomen. Fleas spread the bubonic plague, mosquitos carry a host of diseases including malaria and dengue fever, and ticks transmit numerous illnesses including encephalitis. While you might lie awake at night worrying about these vectors, they are not much of a problem in the United States. However, insect-borne diseases continue to kill thousands in the developing world. With Ebola making headlines around the world, there are new fears—most of them overblown—about the transmission of the disease. So let’s just say it: Ebola is a virus—it is not spread by mosquitos, fleas, ticks, or any other bugs.

The Ebola virus originated along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While there are mosquitos aplenty in that part of the world, the bloodsuckers are not Ebola carriers. Female mosquitos only bite once. They drink some blood and then search for water in which to lay eggs. They don’t fly from person to person spreading a disease. In the case of malaria, which kills 600,000 people a year, the parasites are found in a mosquito’s gut. When the bug bites, it injects a saliva containing anticoagulant and malaria bacteria. Ebola does not live in mosquito guts or saliva.

Ebola can only be transmitted by body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead). It has to enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth, or an open cut. Only mammals such as humans, bats, monkeys, and apes have the ability to spread the Ebola virus.

When it comes to contracting Ebola, the odds are really in your favor. You’re much more likely to die from a fall in the bathtub, a lighting strike, or from food caught in your throat. Prevent mosquito and wood tick bites with repellent and don’t worry about Ebola. Odds are you’ll win the lottery before you contract the virus.

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