Will The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Effect My Safari in Uganda?
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has dominated headlines globally over the past few months but how concerned should people be about contracting the virus at home or when visiting other countries in Africa?
Well, the first thing to know is that Ebola is incredibly difficult to contract even from an infected person. It is not like a cold or flu or measles or many other viruses. It requires direct contact with an infected person or cadaver and an exchange of bodily fluids or direct contact with raw ‘bushmeat’ in the form of other primates or fruit bats. This means that for the average person even if they were to travel to the affected countries it would be very unlikely that they would contract the virus. That said it is probably not the ideal time to travel to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. In the case of countries that have had only a few confirmed cases of Ebola such as Nigeria, Mali, the USA and Spain it is not necessary to alter travel plans. In the case of countries which have not had any cases of the virus it clearly follows that there is no need whatsoever to even consider delaying that trip of a lifetime due to Ebola. This includes all of East and Southern Africa.
Could Ebola spread to these areas?
As we have seen with cases in the USA and Europe no disease respects international boundaries, but it must be remembered that Africa is HUGE-big enough to fit China, India, Europe, the USA and Japan within it’s boundaries at one time. The Ebola outbreak is closer to Spain, the UK and even Brazil than it is to Uganda. Besides, it will more likely travel by air than land and Uganda has no direct flights to West Africa and Uganda has been monitoring all air passenger arrivals for sometime now. It is widely held by experts that if the virus should spread from West Africa it is more likely to spread to the USA and Europe than 5000km south through Africa, and this has proven to be the case. From this it could well be argued that it is safer here in Uganda than, for example, in London, New York or Amsterdam.
But what if it did reach Uganda?
While Uganda is less likely to see Ebola cases from this outbreak than most European and North American countries it is of course possible; after all Uganda is providing doctors to help fight the virus in Sierra Leone. But this is reassuring. As much as Africa is enourmous, different countries on this vast continent have different capacities within their health sector and with MSF, Red Cross, the Virus Institute and CDC all already on the ground, Uganda is probably the best placed country in the world to deal with any cases of Ebola in the unlikely event that it should reach here from those affected countries.
A Bit of Perspective
So far in 2014 approximately 5,000 people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone, USA, Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Nigeria. 10,475 people have died as a result of gun violence in the same period in the USA alone. Where is safer?