Ebola: Putting Things Into Perspective

Ebola. The mere mention of this word sends a shiver down most people’s spines. On a daily basis, we are being bombarded with new updates and statistics by a media that is hungry to sink its teeth into a new epidemic story. But what are the facts about this disease and do you need to worry if you are travelling to Southern or East Africa in the near future? In this post we aim to alleviate your fears and concerns about travelling to Africa, give you the hard facts, and put this virus into perspective.

Distance to the Ebola outbreak
Distance to the Ebola outbreak area (map courtesy of www.traveldailynews.com)

Fact: Ebola Is Concentrated To A Small Part of West Africa

Unfortunately, irresponsible reporting and sensationalism by the media has led to many people believing that the whole of Africa is unsafe and fighting the deadly Ebola virus. But this simply is not true. Only a small part of Africa is affected, mainly in West Africa where this epidemic has become out of control largely due to where this outbreak has happened – in small under-developed villages where they simply don’t have the facilities or the expertise to curb the virus. East Africa and Southern Africa are all Ebola clear. And in the unlikely event of this disease spreading to any of these countries, it will be contained immediately.

The three countries being affected by the outbreak (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia) are all in West Africa, with Liberia having the highest casualties, mainly due to its failing medical system which allocates less than one doctor per 100,000 people. In stark contrast, a country such as South Africa has 77 doctors per 100,000 people.

Fact: Africa Is A Vast Continent

Africa is an immense continent, larger even than China, Europe, USA, Japan and India put together, and consists of 54 independent African countries. (only 6 of which have had reported cases of Ebola) Please rest assured that the outbreak is far removed from any of the destinations that we send our clients, including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, and that none of our flights are routed near affected countries.

A case in point is Nigeria where the virus has been contained immediately due to proper handling and medical facilities. Geographically East Africa and South Africa are further from the outbreak area than LA is from New York or Lisbon from Moscow. And the cities of Paris, London, Madrid and Lisbon are closer to the Ebola outbreak than many African cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Arusha and Nairobi.

True size of Africa Infographic
The true size of Africa (map courtesy of www.thesafaricompany.co.za)

Fact: There Are Strict Screening Procedures In Place

Although it is “possible” for Ebola to arrive into any country, very much as it has in the USA – you need to remember that South Africa (Johannesburg) and Kenya (Nairobi) have excellent medical facilities and expertise which is why it won’t spread or create the devastation it has in West Africa. There is a strict screening process which happens at all African airports; quarantine facilities are in place, and everyone is on high alert regarding Ebola and the threat that it brings.

Fact: Ebola Is NOT An Airborne Virus

The Ebola virus cannot be spread via the air, and infection only happens if you come into contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. This puts healthcare professionals most at risk.

It also means that the virus cannot survive in the atmosphere or in air filters, such as many of the pandemic airborne viruses can. Ebola sufferers also do not typically sneeze or cough (two of the fastest ways for a virus to spread) such as with the cold virus.

Fact: Ebola Only Spreads When The Carrier Shows Symptoms

Another interesting fact about Ebola is that it cannot spread in the incubation period, and the carrier only becomes infectious once they are showing the symptoms of the disease. The infected person is incapacitated within hours making going to work or catching public transport impossible. The Ebola virus can also not survive in insects so cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes for example. The virus will simply die inside them.

Don’t Be Misled By Sensationalist Social Media

We know that you are fighting the media circus which has completely sensationalized this tragic epidemic and which in turn has friends and family fearing for your safety. But please understand that we are all living our normal lives out here in South and East Africa. Other than answering a few anxious questions we still have not had a single client cancel their booked trip. People are still travelling to all the destinations you are going to with great ease and wonderful experiences.

Cancellation Policies

Most of our accommodation partners have amended their cancellation policies considerably, agreeing to waive cancellation fees in the very unlikely event that the World Health Organization declare an outbreak in any region within which we operate.

Don’t Stop Dreaming Of Your Africa Trip

So if you have been dreaming and planning your once-in-a-lifetime safari to East or Southern Africa we hope that this post has alleviated some of your concerns and that you will be able to make an educated decision about travelling to Africa. We would love to welcome you to this beautiful continent with its incredible wildlife and natural wonders. Please rest assured that we stay abreast of all the latest developments and that our client’s health and well-being is our top priority. We would not want for you to miss out on the experience of a lifetime.