Health & Wellness

Can You Catch Ebola on an Airplane? 5 Important Ebola Travel Tips

Can you catch Ebola on an airplane? Image of swine flu - our last scary epidemic.

Remember swine flu? Image from Flickr user eelssej_

Is it safe to board a plane? Should I avoid Dallas at all costs? Go Girls around the world are worried about travel during the recent Ebola outbreak. Since the disease has few treatment options and prevention is limited to good hygiene, it makes for some wary travelers.

It’s ok to worry, but it’s also important to be educated. Check out some of our top Ebola travel tips, and share your own resources in the comments section below.

1. Can you catch Ebola on an airplane?

The hot question these days is if you can catch Ebola on an airplane. The answer is, sure. But is it likely? No. Ebola can only be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s blood, bodily fluids, or tissue, so unless you plan to join the Mile High Club with someone who’s infected, you should be ok.

You also can’t catch Ebola from your seatmate just by sitting next to them. According to the World Health Organization, the disease isn’t transmittable from humans until they start to display symptoms.

Despite how airtight a plane feels, the air is actually circulated and cleaned regularly, and recycled with fresh air. For this reason, you are about as likely to catch a disease on an aircraft as you are to catch one from someone in a movie theater. An August article put out by Wired explains how the airflow works in a plane and how that relates to Ebola transmission.

2. What countries are travel restricted? Should I avoid travel to the African continent?

The most dangerous countries at the moment are Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and travelers with non-essential travel plans are encouraged not to travel to these destinations at this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Enhanced precautions should be practiced for travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Africa is the world’s second biggest continent, covering 12 million square miles. Just because you are traveling to Africa doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in any more danger of contracting Ebola than any other location. Know the country you’re traveling to and understand its geography and current events. If in doubt, consider contacting your embassy.

3. What steps are airports taking to catch Ebola-infected passengers?

Airports around the world are taking extra precautions in order to help prevent the spread of Ebola. Passengers who arrive on flights from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone must undergo a thorough security process with customs and border patrol officials. This check includes screening for fever and other symptoms and asking each passenger about their travel history and possible exposure.

4. What can I do to prevent Ebola?

–While traveling, avoid contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. This includes blood and tissue.

–This includes sex! Men can transmit Ebola through their semen up to seven weeks after recovery. Use a condom or don’t have sex at all with someone who has been infected.

–Avoid contact with living or dead animals and the handling of wild animal meat, especially chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers, and fruit bats.

–Avoid contact with any needles or other items that could be contaminated with blood or bodily fluids

–If you like, carry a surgical mask and hand wipes on the plane. If someone sneezes, you’ll have something to offer them.

5. What do I do if I notice symptoms?

According to the WHO, it takes up to 21 days for a human to develop symptoms of Ebola. These include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes even internal/external bleeding.

If you notice any of these symptoms while on a plane, contact your cabin crew immediately. If traveling, seek medical care.

Ebola is a scary disease. But that doesn’t mean we should be uninformed or afraid, or that we should stop traveling in general. What do you think?

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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