I recently returned from a trip to Southern Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana). It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I recommend everyone run! to visit there. Yet, when people hear that I was in Southern Africa, it seems all they hear is Africa and they give me a questioning look or take a few steps back or directly ask if I have Ebola.
Not everyone responds this way yet enough have that I have had enough. No, I do not have Ebola. I was in Southern Africa, not Western Africa. Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids. And let’s keep in mind that even if it were more easily transmitted, Southern Africa is farther away from Western Africa than Chicago is from Dallas. In fact, during our vacation, my travel companions and I joked that we were “safer” from Ebola in Southern Africa than if we would have stayed home. I have a higher likelihood of having malaria from those blood-sucking African mosquitos.
And the kicker is that my mother, who travelled with me, received a telephone call the day after her return from a county health official. My mother resides in a small rural community. The person questioned her activities and informed her of the symptoms of Ebola. The person also provided my mother with her cell phone number in case my mother became symptomatic. OMG! More people die in the US each year from the flu or from school shootings…just saying. And did I mention we were in Southern Africa, not Western Africa. The two are thousands of miles apart. Africa is a massive continent. Ok, that is my geography lesson for the day.
I have seen in the media that travel to all parts of Africa has significantly declined since the outbreak of Ebola, with people even canceling bookings. In fact, the travel companion of someone on our tour did cancel due to fear. To me, that is unfortunate. People are missing out on an amazing experience and the tourism industry of those countries is being negatively impacted. Let’s all calm down people and focus on education!
Business Insider: Here’s Why Your Panic Over Ebola Patients In The US Is Overblown
National Geographic: Tourism Falling Off In Africa, Far Beyond The Ebola Zone