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Traveling Safely

Written by  Katie Hultgren

The big story in travel news recently has been about the Ebola crisis. The movement of people from one area of the world to another carries with it the possibility to also transport whatever germs those travelers might be carrying. The situation has been changing rapidly, but as of the date I am writing this page, there has been some good news in this health crisis. The twenty-one day period of quarantine for all of those people who were exposed to the Ebola patient in Dallas, TX has passed, with no additional cases reported.

In addition, the World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola, a rare victory in the battle against the fatal disease. Coordination between state and federal health officials, the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and financial and material resources from Nigeria’s government, health officials reached every person known to have contact with infected people and tracked the progress of all who had come in contact with the disease. In the end, Nigeria suffered 20 cases of Ebola and eight deaths, including of two doctors and a nurse. This announcement comes after 42 days passed - twice the disease’s maximum incubation period - since the last case in Nigeria
tested negative.

Nonetheless, travelers are concerned. Some have changed travel plans, and are avoiding large airports where passengers from affected countries will pass through, despite the screening processes that have been implemented.
“The fear of contracting Ebola greatly exceeds the actual risk, and providing factual and scientific information to the traveling public and employees in the aviation sector is vitally important,” said Angela Gittens, Director General, Airports Council International. “The scientific fact is that to contract Ebola one has to have direct contact with the body fluids, blood, secretions or articles contaminated with these fluids from an infected person. As a result, unless an individual has been to one of the three affected countries in West Africa and/or has been in contact with persons infected with Ebola, the risk of contracting the disease is very, very small.”

The Africa Travel Association urges the travel industry and traveling public to remain cautious, however, to acknowledge the immense size of the continent and to continue to travel to the vast majority of the countries that remain safe. With a landmass of 30.2 million square kilometers, the African continent is larger than China, India, and the United States combined, with its 54 independent countries.

Encourage your clients to keep abreast of the latest news and information regarding Ebola, and to be aware but not fearful. There is a much greater chance of contracting the flu this season than Ebola, so as always, it is a good idea to get a flu shot, wash hands and cover sneezes and coughs.

For the most up-to-date information, visit The Centers for Disease Control at or the World Health Organization at

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