International travelers have another woe to address along with flight cancellations, loss of luggage and unavailability of accommodations: the deadly Ebola virus. The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa earlier this year, has claimed over a thousand lives, and counting. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a 'public health emergency of international concern'.
Here are a few things you can keep in mind while traveling to be extra sure that you do not contract the virus:
- Mourn the dead, but from a great distance: I know of some adventure seeking travelers for whom sitting on the sidelines is not enough. They have to 'be involved' everywhere starting from local parades to volunteer activities. It may seem a cathartic experience to stand on the line that separates the dead from the living, to put yourself in the dead man's shoes and wonder 'to be or not to be'. But believe me, this definitely is not the time. You would be much better off lighting a candle on your windowsill. The Ebola virus is known to pass from the body of the infected dead to the living.
- Say 'NO' to Intimate Encounters: You are in an exotic African location, and that rendezvous with the stranger who has been eying you for the last hour, may seem too tempting to pass. Just remember this-the Ebola virus spreads through bodily fluids including saliva and semen. And, men who have been cured with treatment can still infect their partners for up to seven weeks.
- Put a cap on your Animal love: Ebola virus is primarily spread through animals. So though you may be dying to cuddle that cute little chimp, you are better off not doing it. Apes, monkeys and fruit bats, are high risk animals. For similar reasons, let any dead animal that you see in the forest, lie. Do not try to give him a burial. Or you might soon have to follow him.
- Be fully clothed, And I mean 'Fully Clothed': Now is not the time to show off those toned legs and tanned arms. Keep them for the beach. While on a trip to a high risk zone, cover yourself from head to foot. This is because Ebola virus can affect you through your broken skin. If your broken skin is exposed to anything that has previously been contaminated with an infected person's body fluids, or soiled clothings, bed, linen, or needles, then chances of contracting the virus are much higher.
- Extra protection if you are a health worker, and a prayer too: Chances of contracting the virus are extremely high for health workers. Health workers cannot avoid contact with the ill, of course. So, they need to take extra care while handling infected patients, keeping away from any hazardous exposure to infected body fluids.
- Co-operate with Airport Authorities: Remember that all these checks are in place for your safety. By taking up a little more of your time, they are ensuring your safety and that of the rest.
- You need to go to Nigeria now, Really? : Evaluate the alternative options. Is that trip to Nigeria or Guinea or Liberia really as important as you think? If possible, postpone your plans to visit the affected place for a later date. After all, that business meeting or that study on the rainforest is never more important than your life and family.
Image Credit : NiaidPublished On: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014