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Measles is nine times as contagious as Ebola

This fantastic graphic from NPR helps explain why public health officials are so confident they will be able to stop the spread of Ebola. What it shows is the reproduction, or "R0 Number" for different diseases. This is the average number of people a patient with a given disease infects. Ebola has one of the lower R0 numbers; it's way less infectious than measles, HIV or SARS.

ebola r

(Adam Cole / NPR)

It's still possible to see this graph as scary: after all, it does show that, on average, each Ebola patient infects two more people. How do we stop that here in the United States?

As Michaeleen Doucleff explains, Ebola is an easier disease to contain because people aren't contagious until they show symptoms.

"So to stop the chain of transmission," she writers, "all health workers in Texas have to do is get the people possibly infected by the sick man into isolation before these people show signs of Ebola. Then R0 drops to zero. And Texas is free of Ebola."