Ebola Outbreak Update – Should You Cancel Your Trip?

by Sandy Salle on October 15, 2014

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We have been receiving several emails from our Hills of Africa Travel clients with concerns over the Ebola outbreak and would like to take the time to address those concerns.

We understand that some travelers, as well as their family and friends may be concerned about traveling to Africa due to the Ebola virus. The outbreak is all over the news and the media has caused a tremendous amount of fear in people.

We would like to take this time to point out several important points about the Ebola outbreak:

  • Every single one of the countries we send clients to is currently Ebola FREE. Not one case in any of the countries we book trips to has been affected by this current outbreak, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Madagascar.
  • Many of the major travel hubs throughout Africa, as well as Europe, have banned entry to travelers who have been to the affected areas of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
  • Traveling throughout Africa is not like it is in the United States where you can just cross the border of each state as you wish. Each of the 54 independent nations that make up Africa have their own strict customs rules and many of the countries throughout Africa are now prohibiting travelers from entering if they have been to one of the three countries that are currently experiencing an Ebola outbreak.
  • Ebola is mainly transmitted via direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. Objects that have saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids from an infected individual can also post a risk for spreading the disease.
  • Southern and Eastern Africa have been preparing for cases since the first Ebola outbreak reports in West Africa, which were reported back in March of this year. Only now is America and Europe beginning to implement precautionary measures. Currently, Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras are being used in International Airports to detect individuals with fevers. These individuals are quarantined and tested prior to official entry.
  • Parts of Europe and South America are closer to the affected countries in West Africa than safari destinations in Southern and Eastern Africa. See the map below for a look at just how huge Africa really is and the distance between each region.

africa size

Map graphic was taken from the Economist website and can be found at the following location: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/cartography

We understand that there has also been concern over whether or not Ebola is an airborne disease and if it is likely that a traveler can catch it while on an airplane.

According to a recent article by the New York Times, “Top Ebola experts have said they would not expect to be infected even if they were sitting next to another passenger [on an airplane] with Ebola – unless that passenger actually vomited or bled on them. Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who brought the virus to Nigeria in July, was so sick he had to be helped off the plane in Lagos. He had vomited while on board. There were about 200 passengers on the plane, according to Nigerian health authorities, and not one of them got infected.”

The article further went on to say, “If Ebola was transmitted like influenza, experts point out, an outbreak would echo the spread pattern of the 2009 flu pandemic, and by now there would be millions of cases around the globe.

Ebola does not typically cause sneezing or coughing and saliva does not normally build up large viral loads until late in the disease. But because patients can cough vomitus or blood, or vomit violently, caregivers routinely wear masks and goggles.” (Click here to read the full article.)

Note that the information above is subject to change; however, at this time, it is accurate to date. The below graphic illustrates where the current Ebola Outbreak is reported:

ebola

Image above taken from thesafaricompany.co.za website – read the full article here: http://thesafaricompany.co.za/travelblog/ebola-are-you-at-risk-infographic/

 I would also like to share a quote from one of our recent travelers to Kenya, Rebecca Liston:

“I’ve recently returned from a two-week safari in Kenya and can honestly tell you I never once worried about Ebola. I’m a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a business owner, and a homeopathic physician. I have as many reasons, as you do not to get sick! And yet, the research is clear and the facts are well founded: I wasn’t at risk. I wasn’t anywhere near a country that had any cases of Ebola, and even if I were, I had no intentions of handling any infectious body fluids or sharing infected instruments. It’s just not that easy to “catch” this virus when you’re thousands of miles away from it and your travel plans don’t include dabbling in infectious waste. I know how scary it all sounds; I, too, have a mother who was very concerned about us. But I hope I can offer from my own experience some assurance that you are safe and that, if you were not, Sandy and your government would stop you from boarding that plane. Enjoy your travels. Africa awaits!” – Rebecca Liston

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Your safety and well-being is our number one priority. If we had any reason to believe that a trip to southern or eastern Africa posed a risk for contracting Ebola, we would not advise you to visit and neither would the United States government!

If you are soon to be taking a trip to Africa, I strongly encourage you to share this post with your friends and family to help quell their fears.

 

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