Out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about Ebola spreading like wildfire across the web, one of the most understandable, yet informative, is KVUE-TV’s “Separating facts from fears regarding Ebola.” As with most outbreaks, we have a tendency to focus on our fears, not the facts.
While Ebola is definitely scary, it shouldn’t impact your travel plans unless you’re traveling to or from West Africa. Still worried? With the help of some very credible news outlets and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’ve compiled a list of 20 reasons why travelers should worry less (or not at all) about Ebola.
1. It’s not highly contagious. In order to “catch” the virus, one would have to come in direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids and those fluids would have to enter a break in the skin or a mucous membrane.
2. Ebola is not airborne. Unlike many infections, Ebola is not spread via respiratory transmission. Exposure to a seatmate who is coughing will not give someone Ebola.
3. Ebola has a long generation time. Compared to other outbreaks, the transmission period for Ebola is very slow. For example, in four generations of Ebola, about 15 people will be infected whereas in four generations of chicken pox, more than 5,000 people will be infected.
4. For those who need it, there is protection. Ebola cannot be transmitted to someone wearing protective clothing such as goggles, gloves, gowns and masks.
5. We can contain it. On October 9, USA Today reported that Nigeria, a country visited by a man infected with Ebola, had successfully contained Ebola and was declared Ebola-free. The government did this by making sure that the ill were quarantined and educating the public on the virus and preventative measures among other things.
6. The CDC is communicating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only issued three warnings related to Ebola. The warnings are to avoid nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
7. It can be stopped. In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” the director of the CDC said he was confident that the U.S. was equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to stop the Ebola outbreak.
8. Health care workers are being educated. Massive efforts are underway to train health care workers around the world. Doctors and nurses in the U.S. are particularly skilled in preventing infectious diseases and treating highly infectious patients in isolation wards.
9. The Feds are on our side. The Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies are working closely with the CDC to identify and screen travelers who may have come in contact with the virus.
10. The airports are on our side too. Before any passenger can board a plane leaving Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, their temperature is taken. At least 20 different U.S. ports of entry have established quarantine centers for possible Ebola patients (there haven’t been any yet), and Ebola-specific travel warning signs are posted in high traffic areas.
11. The infected are being isolated. In West Africa, Ebola treatment centers with distinct wards separate those diagnosed with Ebola from other patients. When the two American aid workers infected with Ebola were transported back to the U.S., they traveled in a private jet equipped with proper equipment for containment. Once in the U.S., the patients were treated by highly-trained medical professionals specializing in treatment in hospital isolation units.
12. The proportion of travelers entering the U.S. from West Africa is tiny. The CDC reports that only about one hundredth of one percent of travelers entering the U.S. come from countries with Ebola outbreaks. Furthermore, an even smaller proportion of these travelers would be arriving on direct flights.
13. The CDC is communicating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only issued three warnings related to Ebola. The warnings are to avoid nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
14. We know its nemeses. Among other things, the Ebola virus can be killed by chlorine, heat, direct sunlight, soaps, detergent and other disinfectants.
15. Ebola does not like water. Ebola’s life span depends on its access to a host. In water, especially fresh water where the salt concentration is low, the virus quickly dies. Therefore it is not a water-borne virus. (Furthermore, it’s not a food-borne illness.)
16. The symptoms are easily identifiable. When someone is experiencing the symptoms of Ebola, such as headache, fever and joint pain, they know it and are therefore more apt to seek treatment.
17. Ebola is only contagious if the infected person is experiencing symptoms of the virus. It’s impossible to catch Ebola from someone who seems perfectly healthy because they are not contagious during the incubation period.
18. People infected with Ebola probably aren’t traveling. The symptoms of Ebola are severe and easily identifiable, so it’s not likely that an infected person would be up for a business trip or vacation.
19. It has a relatively low reproductive number. To determine how contagious something is, experts use something called the reproductive number. This number is basically the number of people, on average, who catch a disease from one infected person. The reproductive number for measles (when nobody is vaccinated) is about 18. For Ebola, the reproductive number is less than two. When the number is below one, the epidemic ends.
20. No known cases of infected pets. While Ebola transmitted by fruit bats, most people don’t have fruit bats for pets. As of October 14, there are no reports of dogs or cats infected with Ebola, and scientists don’t even know if it’s possible for Ebola to be passed from cats or dogs to people.
Knowing all of the above, we can’t help but remain excited about the 2015 travel season and the adventures that our guests will experience.
Alumni enthusiasm. Now that is something that is highly contagious! So, if you’ve traveled with us in the past, we’re encouraging you to infect others with your post-trip passion and positivity. It can even pay. (See our refer a friend program.)
Still have questions or concerns about Ebola and your travel plans? Feel free to contact us at 1-800-575-1540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.