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A weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions about diseases!

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Hi, I'm Elliott and this is Mental_Floss on YouTube. Today, I'm gonna talk about some misconceptions about diseases.

(Mental_Floss intro plays)

Misconception number one: Ebola spreads through contact with other people. The Ebola virus can only spread through bodily fluid to mucous membrane or broken skin. In other words, someone with Ebola has the virus in their blood, sweat and urine. One of those needs to come into contact with a non-infected person's eyes, mouth, nostrils, ears, genitals, or an open wound, then the virus would spread. It won't spread through regular contact or through the air or water.

Misconception number two: people who have recovered from Ebola might still be contagious. Nope. According to the World Health Organization, people remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. So once the virus is gone, they're no longer infectious, although it's worth noting that in semen the virus is transmissible for up to seven weeks after recovery, and it can also hide in your eyes for a long time after you get rid of it.

Misconception number three: Alzheimer's isn't deadly. In the US it's actually the sixth leading cause of death. As the disease progresses, people tend to have increased difficulty swallowing both food and liquid. This can lead to deadly pneumonia or aspiration problems. They may also forget to take their medications. Because of this, people usually live an average of 8-10 years after being diagnose with Alzheimer's.

Misconception number four: Alzheimer's is all genetics. Actually, environmental factors, age, and lifestyle may have an impact too, and according to the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, there are a few things you can do that may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's. These include being physically active; eating healthy foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish; keeping your brain challenged; reducing stress, keeping an eye on your cholesterol levels; avoiding traumatic brain injury; and keeping socially active.

Misconception number five: death from rabies is common. As far as diseases go, rabies is fairly uncommon. There are about 25,000 to 55,000 deaths by rabies in the world each year. Compare this with the 56 million people that die of cardiovascular disease each year. The problem is that 95% of rabies cases occur in poor parts of Asia and Africa where there are limited rabies vaccines, so those cases almost always end in death. In the US, on the other hand, there were only two reported instances of rabies in 2010. We have effective vaccines, so the World Health Organization is currently aiming to half the amount of deaths by rabies each year.

Misconception number six: celiac disease is extremely rare. Because "gluten free" has become a diet trend, a lot of people don't take it seriously or realize the prominence of celiac disease. Celiac disease, by the way, is a digestive disorder in which eating gluten can cause issues in the small intestine, and many people do have it. According to the National Foundation for celiac awareness, an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% or the population, has celiac disease."

Misconception number seven: eating sugar and/or being overweight causes diabetes. First, it's worth distinguishing between type one and type two diabetes. Only five to ten percent of people have type one, which is when symptoms appear early in life, it's also completely unpreventable. Type two can usually be either prevented or delayed if someone has a healthy lifestyle. It develops later in life and typically isn't diagnosed until adulthood.

It's usually type two that people are talking about when it comes to this misconception, but there are other factors besides sugar and weight, although those two things do have an impact if you're already at risk for diabetes. The majority of overweight people will never develop type two diabetes, 30% of overweight people are type two diabetic and 85% of type two diabetics are overweight. Some other risk factors include family history, high blood pressure, being over 45 years old, and giving birth to a baby who weighed over nine pounds. Mom.

Misconception number eight: heart disease primarily affects men. It actually depends on the age. For instance, men are more likely to have heart disease between the ages of 20 and 59, ut by age 60, the genders start to even out. 70% of people at that age have heart disease, and at 80 and older, women are actually more likely than men to have it. And, it's worth noting that heart disease is the number one cause of death in American women.

Misconception number nine: measles is a mild disease, like chicken pox. Measles typically presents itself as a rash and a fever. It usually lasts for about eight days, but in one in 1,000 cases, the infection can spread to the brain, then doctors can't do much. These patients may experience brain swelling and convulsions. Sometimes they recover, but they may die or go deaf or blind. Luckily, there has been a 75% worldwide drop in measles between 2000 and 2013 thanks to vaccines. So that's cool, also, I should clarify that chicken pox isn't always a mild disease either, it can lead to complications as well.

Misconception number 10: people can be immune to malaria. There's no such thing as 100% immunity to malaria, but some people have what experts call "partially protective immunity." Basically, after repeated exposure to malaria, a person may stop showing the regular symptoms. It still needs to be studied more, but experts believe the immunity protects people from severe symptoms and death, but they can still be infected.

If you have a topic for an upcoming misconceptions episode that you would like to see, don't bottle it up, OK? Leave it in the comments down below and we'll check it out. Thank you for watching misconceptions on Mental_Floss on YouTube and I'll see you next week. Bye.

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