Ebola can spread by air travel

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is spreading faster than efforts to control it.

It takes between 2 and 21 days before Ebola symptoms to show. Therefore a person who catches Ebola can spread it without knowing; especially with air travel it is much easier to spread from West Africa to other regions and continents.

There is a new American post-apocalyptic drama television series; The Last Ship which is premiered on June 22, 2014 at cable network TNT. After a global pandemic kills or sickens possibly over 50% of the world's population, the crew of a lone unaffected U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, the fictional USS Nathan James is trying to find a cure and stop the virus in order to save humanity.

The story of the TV series reminds me the outbreak of Ebola virus which may spread around the world as it happened in The Last Ship. Do you have any comment? Write us through our social media channels; Facebook|Twitter|Google+

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

Genus Ebolavirus is 1 of 3 members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus), along with genus Marburgvirus and genus Cuevavirus. Genus Ebolavirus comprises 5 distinct species:

  1. Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
  2. Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)
  3. Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)
  4. Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)
  5. Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV).

BDBV, EBOV, and SUDV have been associated with large EVD outbreaks in Africa, whereas RESTV and TAFV have not. The RESTV species, found in Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, can infect humans, but no illness or death in humans from this species has been reported to date.

How Ebola spreads?

Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.


The Signs and symptoms are sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

prevent-ebolaThe outbreak began with just a handful of cases in Guinea in March. Since then, that number has grown to 909 confirmed cases and another 414 probable or suspected in that country, Sierra Leone and Liberia and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.

Some 729 people of the 1,323 total confirmed and possible infections have died, reports WHO as of July 27.

Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. As we recently read in news that the top doctor treating patients infected with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone; Dr. Sheik Umar Kahn contracted the disease, and recently died from it.

Patrick Sawyer, an American citizen who worked in Liberia, flew to Nigeria intending to attend a conference. After exhibiting symptoms upon arrival July 20, he was hospitalized and died on July 25. He's the first American to die in the outbreak, though two other U.S. aid workers in Liberia have contracted Ebola and are being treated. Dr. Kent Brantly; one of two Americans sickened by the virus brought to United States on August 2nd, with a medical plane. Video at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital showed someone in a white, full-body protective suit helping Dr. Kent Brantly who dressed in a similarly dressed suit from the ambulance and walk into the hospital. The hospital will treat Brantly, 33, and fellow missionary Nancy Writebol in an isolation unit. The medical plane equipped with an isolation unit will now pick up Writebol in Liberia and bring her to Georgia early next week.

There is no licensed vaccine for Ebola is available.

Since it takes between 2 and 21 days before Ebola symptoms to show, I personally believe that it is easy to spread the virus. Especially air carriers such as Air France, British Airways, KLM, and Turkish Airlines can carry and spread the virus from Africa to other countries and continents.


Ghana has officially placed a ban on flights from four West African countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria) due to the wave of the Ebola virus blowing across the countries. On the other hand, the outbreak has also caused the cancellation of an African Cup of Nations football match between Seychelles and Sierra Leone. The Seychelles was due to host Sierra Leone in a qualifying game on Saturday, but Seychelles health and immigration ministry prevented the visiting players from entering the country.

However, World Health Organization (WHO) states that the risk of a tourist or businessman/woman becoming infected with Ebola virus during a visit to the affected areas and developing disease after returning is extremely low, even if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animal, all unlikely exposures for the average traveler. Tourists are in any event advised to avoid all such contacts.

WHO currently is not recommending any travel restrictions or the closure of borders at points of entry.

WHO doesn’t recommend any travel or trade restrictions on Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone as well. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued warnings Thursday to avoid nonessential travel to the three West African countries. The CDC also acknowledges it's possible a person infected with Ebola in West Africa could get on a plane and arrive in another country like the United States.

WHO advises that transmission of the Ebola virus only occurs when patients are displaying symptoms of the disease which are severe. Do you want to travel together with someone who has the virus but not in severe condition?

Stephen Monroe, deputy director of CDC's National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases said, "It's very unlikely that they would be able to spread the disease to fellow passengers,". Do you think he will accept to fly together with an infected passenger(s)? I believe that he will not.

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WHO’s Advice for travelers:



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