Know the facts!
Over the past year there has been quite a bit of news made about the Ebola virus outbreak in Western Africa, this was big news, there was a time where you could not switch on a news channel without there being live coverage and conversation relating to Ebola.
As responsible human beings we were all concerned and wondered how it would affect us, but I need to clear up a few realities about the Ebola news.
First off, we are all aware of news networks and ratings, this is their business and in their business Ebola was news, the coverage started from Ebola could eradicate the planet of human population to later that Ebola only kills 50% of victims to an almost complete loss of interest because the next better bigger story was available. Now I do not intend to judge anybody’s character or diminish the real threat about Ebola, there are real people suffering and parts of countries nearly destroyed by this virus but it was and is not as devastating to the world and world travelers as many of us was lead to believe. Now in the next section I will cover some of the questions and statements we came across and misperceptions we have had to deal with when it comes to South Africa and Ebola. In no means do I in any way underestimate you, the reader’s intelligence or knowledge, I am purely answering questions or reacting to statements as they have come up over time.
1) I cannot visit Africa because they have Ebola over there.
On this point we need to start with basic geography and clear a few things up, Africa is not a country, Africa is a continent and not only that, Africa is the second largest continent on the planet, second to Asia with 11,730,000 square miles of land mass, Africa makes up 20.4% of the worlds land mass. So to say Africa has Ebola is incorrect and false of the 52 countries in Africa only five countries has been affected by Ebola (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Mali) and the sixth country where there has been an Ebola case is the United States. To bring this into perspective, the straight-line distance between South Africa and the closest affected county is about 3500 miles, now to make that more relateable, it is further than the straight-line distance between the Mexican border and Alaska.
So when I get asked the question or get the statement that people will not visit South Africa because of Ebola I ask the following question. “Would you stay out of Canada if Mexico had an Ebola outbreak?”
2) But even if South Africa doesn't have Ebola, i can still get it on a plane
Ironically one person who brought this point up had just returned from a visit in Europe, now to bring the geography back into the picture, the straight-line distance between Spain and Mali is less than 1000 miles, so to take logic and distance into mind what are the chances that an infected individual would choose to travel more than 4000 miles to South Africa for help if he can travel less than 2000 miles to Europe and get 1st world medical services. So I would say traveling to or through Europe has larger potential risk than traveling directly from USA Atlanta to South Africa as the chances of an infected individual using that route is not very likely, the largest risk would be going through Atlanta USA as there was one case treated there where there has been none in the whole of Southern Africa. So to get to the final point, South Africa is one of the most developed countries of the 52 others on the Continent, we have an excellent private medical infrastructure in South Africa, our government implemented immediate travel ban into the country for any individual from infected countries and strict travel rules for individuals from neighboring countries in the infected area.
South Africa has implemented top of the line scanners and early detection equipment at borders and has been on a ready basis to handle and detect any possibility of infection or early signs of it. To add to the above, when you arrive in South Africa, your outfitter will pick you up at the airport and transport you to the hunting area, hunting area’s and lodges are located in rural areas with distance between the lodge and populated areas so on the hunt in South Africa you will only meet and deal with at most 5 to 10 people while in camp and they are all staff, so the chances of exposure while on the hunt is also very small even if there was any risk in the country, which is not there to start with.
So in short, you are at this stage less likely to be exposed to Ebola in South Africa while hunting than you would be in an US mall where an aid worker shops who has just retuned from the infected areas.