Ebola Update – Africa 2015, Should you go or should you not?

Ebola Update – Southern & Eastern Africa 2015, Should you go or should you stay?

We understand that a few of our prospective clients are concerned about traveling to Southern Africa due to the Ebola virus, and rightfully so. The outbreak is all over the news and the media has caused a tremendous amount of fear in people.

 

In a statement, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on 17 April announced the handing over of the ELWA 3 Ebola management center in Monrovia to the Liberian Ministry of Health. The ELWA 3 was closed down on 25 March in view of decrease in number of Ebola cases in the country. At this time, the facility has 30 beds but has the ability to increase further to 60 beds in case of need. At the peak of the outbreak, it had a capacity of 250 beds and was the largest management centre that was built.

 

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

  • Every single one of the countries we take our clients to is currently Ebola FREE, plus I personally travel and lead every safari myself, and if I believed that there was any risk I would not go, so my leading each safari speaks volumes.
  • Not a single case of Ebola has been reported in any of the countries we book trips to, and none have been affected by this current outbreak, including South Africa, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia.
  • 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.

true-size-of-africa

Map graphic above 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. The below graphic illustrates where the current Ebola Outbreak is reported:

 

The below infographic serves to show the size of Africa and that the continent is made up of many independent countries, which has put measures in place to limit the spread of the Ebola virus (similar to countries not situated in Africa). It doesn’t focus on the spread of the virus and how it can be prevented.

 

How wide is the continental USA, and how far from the center of the Ebola outbreak do we go on Safari?

As a reference to the size of Africa, The United States is 4,500 km across from its eastern seaboard to its western coast.
If the U.S. is measured from eastern Maine to Hawaii, it is a distance 8,200 km.

Sabi Sand, South Africa:

Sabi Sand is 10,500 km from the center of the Ebola outbreak and in the “Green zone”

Link to show distance between Sierra Leone & Sabi Sand, South Africa

Maasai Mara Kenya:

The “Mara is 7,650 km from the center of the Ebola outbreak and in the “Green Zone”

Link to show distance between Sierra Leone & the Mara, Kenya

Mashatu Botswana:

Mashatu is 10,080 km from the center of the Ebola outbreak and in the “Green Zone”

Link to show distance between Sierra Leone & Mashatu, Botswana

Erindi, Kolmanskop, Sossusvlei Namibia:

Sossusvlei, Namibia is 9,000 km from the center of the Ebola outbreak and in the “Green Zone”

Link to show distance between Sierra Leone & Kolmanskop, Namibia

Image below has been provided by “The Safari Co” who provides digital tools for the tourism industry.

 

Ebola... Are you at risk when on safari?