2014 will go down in history as the largest outbreak of Ebola since the virus was originally discovered in 1976. At present the virus seems to be spreading rapidly through western Africa affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Ebola has a number of different recognised strains and it’s currently the ‘Zaire strain’ which is causing so many fatalities. Named after the country it was originally hails from, Zaire ebolavirus as it is known to scientists is the most dangerous strain known and claims an astonishing 79% mortality rate and there is currently no known cure.
Whilst the ebola outbreak is currently limited to countries in West Africa, our increasingly international culture means there is always a chance, no matter how slim, that the disease may make the transmit from the African continent to Western countries.
The USA itself is currently treating an American citizen suspected of contracting the disease. Whether or not the individual should have been brought into mainland USA has divided much of the American public. The real question in these cases is just how safe it is to treat infected individuals on home ground or whether even suspected cases should be prevented from entry in a bid to protect native citizens?
The question for both tourists and expats alike is really how the disease should be prevented and – if necessary – identified in order to keep themselves safe.
Ebola often presents itself initially with flu-like symptoms such as aching joints, coughs and headaches though in later stages the symptoms may become more extreme. The important point to note is that ebola is spread through bodily fluids rather than through the air. In suspected cases the most important advice given my medical professionals is therefore to avoid any physical contact with the patient unless protective clothing is being worn.
Whatever the case may be, while ebola is unlikely to affect many travellers and expats, this health outbreak does help to underline the importance of effective expat healthcare insurance
so any sickness while abroad can be treated as effectively and safely as possible.