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Tuesday
Nov182014

Ebola in West Africa

Over the last few months Maria and I have watched the progression of this terrible Ebola outbreak affecting countries in West Africa. It has been a relief to see countries like Nigeria, Spain and Senegal bringing the situation in their countries under control to the point where the World Health organization has declared them Ebola free. Mali and the United States are classified with local transmissions and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra leone of course sadly are suffering the full affects of this outbreak. 

 

It has been quite widely stated that Ebola is transmitted from direct contact with infected blood or body fluids, contaminated objects like needles or by handling what is known as “bushmeat” from fruit bats and primates (this can be a source of food in West Africa). Ebola is not an airborne virus and from what we understand it would take something of a genetic miracle for the virus to evolve into an airborne virus. 

 

The areas of West Africa that are infected with Ebola are actually closer to Europe than they are to destinations like Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa and they also have a much greater flow of people and air traffic with Europe than they do these areas. Countries all over Africa are very aware of the potential threats of Ebola and they are taking precautions to prevent the virus from traveling to their countries. 

 

It has surprised me how much the news of this out break has affected the safari industries of East African and Southern Africa countries who ironically have never had cases of Ebola since the virus first raised its ugly head in 1976 (barring one case in Johannesburg 1996 - a doctor who was treating patients in Gabon). I was in Tanzania when the first case was found in Spain and lodges and camps in the Serengeti had massive cancellations of people who were due to arrive in a few days! Africa is a big place with 55 countries and over 2000 spoken languages that have played various roles in global politics for hundreds of years, yet it amazes me how little the world outside of Africa knows about the birth place of the human species!

 

How land is used in Africa is a big deal, little can be afforded to be left under utilized - tourism is the best hope for wildlife areas that have little to offer agriculture and tourism gives animals great value to the people who seek to improve their quality of life in these remote places. As the son of a farming family we lived with the constant threat of drought - it seems to me that the fickle nature of tourism is a man made equivalent.

 

Please do Africa a favor and correct someone when they place the vastness of this massive continent’s diversity in a single box!  I will be in Tanzania on safari this Christmas and while I fear the wrath of Maria for missing another holiday - I do not fear Ebola!!

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