Are travellers at risk from the Ebola virus?

Last updated 08:27, August 18 2014
ARE YOU SAFE? A health worker takes a passenger's temperature with an infrared digital laser thermometer at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan.
Reuters

ARE YOU SAFE? A health worker takes a passenger's temperature with an infrared digital laser thermometer at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan.

So far, Ebola has been confined to a few West African countries.

If you were planning to visit those countries you would face an elevated risk, but the virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.

It is relatives of the infected person and health workers who are most at risk.

Ebola is outpacing efforts to contain it and health authorities are concerned that an infected person could board an aircraft and export the virus outside Africa.

Emirates has already cancelled flights to Guinea, one of the infection centres.

The World Health Organisation does not regard thermal scanning of passengers at airports as an effective detection method since this is unlikely to identify anyone with Ebola in its incubation period, which can be from two to 21 days.

For aircraft passengers, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the risk of catching the Ebola virus from an infected passenger is low.

Other health experts suggest that due to the transmission method, the threat from Ebola in a confined space such as an aircraft cabin is far less than from respiratory diseases such as colds and flu, even for those seated in the immediate vicinity of the infected person.

The most effective precautions you can take to safeguard your health are also some of the simplest.

Washing your hands before you eat and using a hand sanitiser will go a long way, and if you plan to travel to any third world country, see your doctor first.

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If you’ve come back from an overseas trip and you experience any unfamiliar health symptoms, you need to see a doctor fast. Early detection is often a game changer.

 - Sydney Morning Herald

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