Reminder: The Flu and Pneumonia Kill Thousands More New Yorkers Than Ebola Every Year

Ebola nyc
People march to end Ebola in New York October 24, 2014. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Ebola has killed almost 5,000 people in West Africa, making this the worst outbreak in the disease's history—and the worst-case-scenario is that Ebola might infect 1.4 million people by January. To say Ebola is a threat to public health—and that it must be effectively addressed in these nations—is probably the biggest understatement about this disease.

But in the U.S. there have been just four diagnosed Ebola cases, with one death. The most recently diagnosed case, Dr. Craig Spencer, is in New York City, and it has prompted a fair amount of panic—for example, governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie instituted a highly criticized quarantine.

A look at public health statistics, however, indicates that New Yorkers should be more concerned with common communicable diseases.

According to the most recent statistics, 1,836 New Yorkers died from influenza and pneumonia (a common complication of influenza) during the 2012-2013 flu season.

"More New Yorkers die from influenza and pneumonia than from any other infection," New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene officials tell Newsweek in an email Monday morning.

The department didn't have up-to-date stats on other potentially deadly communicable diseases readily available—and we will update this story upon receipt—but a look at other numbers compiled by the New York State Department of Health provides additional important context.

In 2013, the most diagnosed communicable disease in New York City was chlamydia—at 58,098 cases. Next in line with 13,500 diagnoses: gonorrhea. There were 12,024 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. And there were 3,031 newly reported human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases. (Note: This HIV statistic is based on the year reported, it excludes inmates, and it is recorded "regardless of concurrent on subsequent AIDS diagnosis," per the state DOH.)

For further information on New York City and state, the DOH has a chart on its website with a longer list of communicable diseases. For national context, Frank Bruni provides some great insight in a recent New York Times op-ed.