With the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa totaling at 1,603 reported cases, it is a topic that has travelers worried about whether or not they should still travel to their intended destinations for a nice summer vacation. To help educate travelers about Ebola, here is some information about the disease and some tips on how to stay healthy during your travels.
What is Ebola?
Ebola virus disease is a rare and deadly disease. It is transmitted by blood or secretions of an infected individual either directly or by contaminated surfaces/objects. Fruit bats, monkeys and chimpanzees can also carry the disease. Fortunately, the disease is not airborne. Though the incubation period for the disease is 8-21 days, symptoms become fatal quickly and eventually cause internal and external bleeding and end in death with multiple organ failure.
Areas to Avoid
The CDC urges US residents to avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone because of unprecedented outbreak of Ebola. Outbreaks have also been reported in Ghana and Nigeria.
Air Travel Restrictions
Some airlines have implemented procedures to assure that Ebola is well-contained. These procedures include flight cancellations, temperature-checking, and questionnaires. A detailed description for each airline is listed below.
British Airways has recently suspended all flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia “due to the deteriorating public health situation in both countries.” Passengers on these flights will be given full refunds or given the opportunity to reschedule their flights. Delta previously allowed passengers to push their flights from the beginning of August, to the end of the month. Middle East airline, Emirates has suspended its service to Conakry, Guinea, until further notice. Air France requires passengers leaving Africa to fill out a questionnaire when entering the airport. They then have their temperature taken and are only given a boarding pass if no symptoms are present.
Precautions You Can Take to Protect Yourself
Since Ebola is spread through infected bodily fluids and secretions, there are precautions you can take to avoid coming into contact with the virus.
- Avoid contact with blood and bodily fluid.
- Do not come in contact with objects and surfaces that have come into contact with an infected individual.
- Avoid contact with animals and raw meat
- Do not handle dead bodies of those who were infected with Ebola, as the disease can still spread after death
- Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes.
- Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The US Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities that are suitable for your needs. The US Embassy in Conakry can be reached at +(224) 655-104-000. The after-hours emergency number is +(224) 655-104-444.
Keep in mind that the incubation period for the virus is 8-21 days so monitor your health 8-21 days after you arrive back home. Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
How Travel Insurance Can Help?
Despite the current outbreak of Ebola, travel can still be fun and enjoyable. Travelers should be sure to take extra precautions and avoid traveling to infected areas. Though purchasing travel medical insurance cannot prevent you from getting Ebola, it can come in handy if such a circumstance occurs. In such occurrences, travel insurance can arrange for emergency medical evacuation, which can either transport the insured to the nearest medical facility, or back to their home country to seek the best possible medical care. With the outbreak of such a serious disease, travel insurance is a crucial resource for travelers to have for safety. To get quotes and compare international travel medical insurance policies, see: International Travel Insurance
- Centers of Disease Control and Prevention
- Ebola Fact Sheet for Travelers – US Department of State
- USAID: Fact Sheet
- World Health Organization: Ebola Virus Disease
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