HOW EBOLA AFFECTS YOUR 2015 SAFARI
Ebola seems to be on the mind of everyone that is considering a trip to Africa in the upcoming future. Hopefully, the following information will put your mind at ease.
THE FACTS ABOUT EBOLA
• Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
• The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
• The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
• The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
• Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization.
• Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralize the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
• There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.
It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON EBOLA AND YOUR SAFARI
Africa, as a continent is larger than the US, India, China, Europe and Japan combined and consists of 54 countries. The current outbreak of Ebola is mainly limited to the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leon. These countries are surrounded by thick equatorial forest which makes travel by foot difficult. The main hunting safari destinations are in southern and East Africa.
There have been no ebola cases in southern and East Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Travel from those countries known to have ongoing outbreaks of ebola into South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe is restricted to citizens of those countries only. No non-citizens are allowed to travel into these popular safari destinations from the ebola zone countries!
The distance from Liberia to Johannesburg, South Africa is 3,385 miles. That is farther than the distance from New York City to Los Angeles.
The bottom line is, you are no more likely to be exposed to ebola in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Tanzania than you are while traveling in the US! Most fear about travel to Africa is generated by excessive media exposure and lack of geographical understanding about the African continent. Therefore, you should not put off taking your dream hunt to South Africa because of the ebola outbreak in West Africa.