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Ebola Outbreak for Travelers; Hype High, Risk Low

August 21, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Sitata, a company that provides health and safety information for travelers, has consistently advised that the Ebola risk for the general traveller is very low. Yet, the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been labelled by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a PHEIC, or a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

How can Ebola be an international emergency, but still be a low risk for travelers?

This outbreak of Ebola is the largest in history and has raised “international concern” because it has spread from Guinea to neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The fear is that Ebola will continue to spread to more countries that do not have the capacity to respond to the situation.

For the vast majority of international travelers, the risk of becoming infected with Ebola remains very low because of the way in which the virus is transmitted. To catch Ebola, you need to have close personal contact with someone who is already sick and displaying symptoms, which means interacting with their bodily fluids such as their sweat, saliva, blood, vomit and/or diarrhea without protection. Contact with soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles can also transmit the virus. Exposure can also occur after death such as when preparing a body for burial. Since most visitors are not involved in these types of activities, they have nothing to fear.

What about passengers on airplanes? What if someone with Ebola sits near me on my flight?

“Even if an individual infected with [Ebola virus disease] travels by plane,” says Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, speaking on behalf of the WHO, “the likelihood of other passengers and crew coming into contact with the individual’s bodily fluids is very low.”

To minimize the spread of the disease to other countries, WHO has recommended that people be denied boarding an airplane if they have or are suspected of being infected with Ebola virus disease (EVD), or if they have had contact with an infected person.

Dr. Ronald St. John, co-founder of Sitata, concludes: “Unless you are a healthcare worker or you have had direct contact with bodily fluids of someone with Ebola, then your risk is very low. We continue to advise travellers that their risk of contracting Ebola is minimal.”

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. stingforever says:

    …this report plays down the risk of ebola transmission… people should not rely on this report since ebola is still a highly contagious disease… on airplanes or even in public places, ebola carriers use toilets and public facilities too, needless to say they pee and splatter fluid… they also talk and when talking, although we don’t see it, but sometimes we do, bits of saliva sprays out of the mouth… people should be warned instead not to travel to those places where infection is present…. please do not take chances… be considerate and help contain the spread of this disease… this report doesn’t help…

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