Contracting the Ebola virus during normal air travel is highly unlikely as it is not spread through the air. Despite the low chances of contracting Ebola, it is a serious virus, and travelers should stay informed as they make plans to visit certain areas of the world.
Travel Safety During an Ebola Outbreak
Despite decreasing coverage in the media, the Ebola virus is still running rampant in several African countries. Outbreaks have been ongoing since March of 2014. Though not as lethal as previous outbreaks, the current death toll sits around 60 percent. Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that U.S. residents avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It is advisable to limit travel to these regions unless absolutely necessary.
How Likely Is It?
Despite the flurry of news reports, contracting the Ebola virus is actually not easy. In order to contract the virus, one must come into contact with bodily fluids, such as the saliva, blood or vomit, of an infected person. Symptoms of Ebola may appear anywhere from two days to three weeks after exposure though, according to some estimates, it may take longer than that. Symptoms are flu-like and can include fever, muscle pain and weakness, headache, vomiting and in some cases, internal and external bleeding.
Air Travel Safety
Currently, there is no vaccine for the Ebola virus nor is there any proven specific treatment other than supportive care. Those traveling to regions where Ebola outbreaks are ongoing must observe proper precautions to manage the risk of contracting this potentially fatal disease. Wear protective clothing when necessary, avoid contact with potentially infected people and wash hands frequently.
As long as these precautions are observed, contracting the disease is highly unlikely. Unless you are traveling for humanitarian reasons, the CDC advises keeping travel to and from affected regions to an absolute minimum. Ebola exposure may result in short term but immediate emergency medical expenses. Travel insurance for American citizens is available to help you plan ahead.