Going Viral: Gossip vs. Ebola

In the sci-fi movie I Am Number Four one of the characters states that "gossip spreads like Ebola." The point being made is that gossip spreads quickly and widely. Although this type of spread is definitely applicable to gossip, it's really a false analogy because Ebola, thankfully, doesn't spread like gossip. 

Ebola outbreaks, which can be explosive, do not sustain themselves. The highly lethal virus appears to spillover from its animal reservoir (probably bats) to apes, monkeys, antelopes, and humans for an unknown reason. Once in a human population, it often exploits lax care practices that expose caretakers--including healthcare personnel--to bodily fluids. In fact, once minimal infection control procedures are instituted, new infections cease.

Additionally, diseases which kill fast with severe symptoms can strictly delimit the ability of the virus to find new individuals to infect. The fact that one is basically confined to a bed with Ebola coupled to the fact that Ebola transmission is via bodily fluids, provides little opportunity to spread the virus beyond close contacts.

Understanding the cycle of why Ebola outbreaks is the subject of some fascinating research (see Spillover) but, barring some mutations, gossip is more viral than the Ebola virus.