Know the Facts – Africa, Tanzania and the Fear of Ebola

February 5, 2015

For those of you whose dream it is to go on safari in Tanzania, but are too afraid to make it a reality because of the fear of Ebola, we wanted to present you with a number of facts to help you make a more informed decision. We, along with other Tanzania safari companies, know that Ebola is a serious virus. Although we have a vested interest in gaining your confidence, every bit of information we are providing is based on facts that can be further researched. To the greatest extent possible we are including references and links so that you can investigate for yourself.


FACT #1: Ebola has Never Been in Tanzania

Let me start off with the most obvious and that there is no Ebola in Tanzania and actually there never has been. In fact there is no Ebola in any Eastern, Central or Southern African country. I can’t say that for the Unites States which has now had six cases of Ebola. If you want to avoid Ebola, Tanzania is actually looking like a great place to visit.


FACT #2: Three Out of 53

That’s how many African countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the US State Department has issued non-essential travel warnings due to Ebola. Those countries are Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. There are no travel warnings or bans to the other 50 African countries due to Ebola.


FACT #3: Africa is an Enormous Continent

Africa is an enormous continent of 54 different countries (does not include islands nations off the coast of Africa). In fact the United States, China, Mexico, all Western and Eastern European countries, Japan, India, and Liberia can fit inside the African continent (see attached Africa comparison photo). Avoiding Tanzania because of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is like Europeans avoiding travelling to Disneyworld in Florida because of an outbreak of Ebola in the Northwest Territories (that’s Canada for those of you who don’t know your Canadian geography but then only Canadians need to know Canadian geography, right?).


FACT #4: Many Miles Between

West Africa is nearly 3500 miles from East Africa (the distance between San Diego and Nova Scotia, also Canada – another opportunity to impress people) with 11 different countries you’d have to travel through by car. Not going to Tanzania for fear of Ebola in West Africa is like not travelling to England because of an Ebola outbreak in a village somewhere in Saudi Arabia.


FACT #5: About Ground Transportation in Africa

There is no intercontinental road system that connects West Africa to East Africa. In fact most African countries don’t have road systems that even loosely resemble our awesome road system in the US. Why? Because Africa has 53 different countries, not 50 states like the US, and each of those 53 countries doesn’t have the tax base to invest in countrywide basic road systems let alone intercontinental roads. This means some trucker, tourist or college kids on spring break from West Africa won’t be doing any road trips to East Africa so it’s highly unlikely that the current Ebola outbreak could spread to East Africa by way of ground transportation.


FACT #6: Okay But What if There Was a Great Intercontinental Road System in Africa?

If there was a series of road systems connecting all the African countries it wouldn’t matter since on average there are only 3-10 motorized vehicles for every 1000 people in Africa, as opposed to 807 motorized vehicles per 1000 US citizens. That means only .3-1% of Africans actually has access to transportation as opposed to 80% of Americans. The reality is that people would still not have the ability to drive from West Africa to East Africa. Why would they anyway? It’s not like Tanzania has a better medical system than West Africa.


FACT #7: But Can’t Ebola Spread by People Flying

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t be concerned about Ebola spreading by way of flights or people catching Ebola from someone infected on a flight. Here’s why:

  1. There are no flights from West Africa to Tanzania so it’s highly unlikely that Tanzania could be exposed to Ebola by people flying from West Africa to Tanzania.
  2. Keep in mind that 97-99.9% of people in Africa don’t even have access to ground transportation let alone the financial resources needed to fly.
  3. Even if West Africans had the money, I’m not sure they would fly to Tanzania for a safari. I think it’s safe to assume that going on a safari in Tanzania is not on most West African’s bucket list, even if it is their 50th birthday celebration. Nod to you Lisa Vincent.
  4. See FACT #8
  5. Kenya, which borders Tanzania, is the only intercontinental hub for flights from West Africa and Kenya has a travel ban on any flights from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Also, like most international airports that are on high alert for Ebola, passengers are being screened by:

•      answering questions about their health and Ebola exposure,

•      having their temperature taken before they are allowed on a plane

•      having their temperatures taken after their arrival,

•      and if a fever should be present, they must then go through a series of medical tests for check for other Ebola symptoms.


FACT #8: You Have to Be Handling Vomit, Diarrhea and/or Blood to Get Ebola

Ebola is not easy to get and can only be transmitted by intimate contact with a very sick patient – meaning you have to be handling vomit, diarrhea and blood products. The reality is that only caregivers (relatives, friends and those specifically in the medical field handling body fluids from infected people are at risk). We have seen this to be very true because no one in the US or other European countries have contracted the virus from infected people unless they were caregivers handling body fluids. Think back to Mr. Duncan from Liberia and the family members that were in very close contact while he was ill. He shared a bed with his fiancé and an apartment with her children and yet not one of them became infected. Nor did anyone on the flight with him get infected. In fact no one became infected other than the hospital workers that did not have proper protective equipment when they were handling is body fluids.


FACT #9: Couldn’t a Tanzanian Doctor or Nurse Bring Ebola into Tanzania

It’s not possible because there are no doctors or nurses from Tanzania treating Ebola patients in West Africa.


FACT #10: Yeah, But Other Caregivers Could Bring Ebola to Tanzania

Not likely since medical workers who are handling Ebola patients are not flying from West Africa to East Africa. That’s because if they get the virus they are likely flying back to their country of origin (like the US) to receive the best medical care possible. No offense to Tanzania but the country is known for its safaris and Tanzanite, not for its outstanding medical care.


FACT #11: Ebola is on the Decrease

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is dramatically decreasing in the numbers of new cases in the three countries impacted (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea).


FACT #12: Good Indication

Another indication that Ebola is on the decrease is the news that the largest Ebola treatment tent in West Africa (Monrovia, Liberia) was dismantled last week because it is no longer needed. This further supports the decreasing number of new Ebola cases.

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