The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Measles passes Ebola as the subject of Americans’ terrified Google searches

In the chum-crusted wake of the 2014 election, we noted that Ebola quickly became a focus of attention for voters and, as quickly, faded from view.

That's mostly because the scattered cases of Ebola in the United States were (very happily) cured and new ones didn't crop up. It's also in part because politicians and the media were no longer obsessing over the topic.

So Americans moved on, and found something else to freak out about: the measles.

Google search interest over the past 90 days for the terms "Ebola" and "measles," as our colleague Chris Ingraham spotted on Tuesday, shows how the latter horrible disease has surpassed the former even-more-horrible one.

Measles, hot. Ebola, not.

This is, in a way, a good thing. As we noted on Monday, people should be more concerned about the measles, a deadly disease that's seen a recent resurgence thanks largely to the anti-vaccination movement.

The data above only goes through February 1, missing some of this week's freak-out. But the chart is also misleading because it doesn't capture the extent of the freak-out over Ebola. If we go back four months, the chart looks like this:

There's a happy median somewhere, we have to assume, where people get appropriately alarmed but don't completely flip. We missed that mark on Ebola, it's safe to say. Here's hoping we've learned something since then.