We are going to Uganda to visit our family. Should we be worried about Ebola or any other viruses or diseases, and if so, what precautions can we take?
As you know, Uganda is not in west Africa, where the ebola outbreak is centered. However, there certainly is a lot of fear about ebola, so let’s look at some of the facts that we know according to the World Health Organization:
Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. Ebola then spreads between people via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. The virus is not airborne or aerosolized like the flu virus, for example.
Those who are most at risk are those people within the community of an ill person who are caring for that person and where there is exposure to blood products.
As a traveller it is most unlikely that you will have this kind of exposure. With any travel, you should see your health care professional in advance to review your vaccines and what is recommended or required for the area you are going to be in, such as:
For more information or other travel advisories, go to travel.gc.ca/travelling.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February 2015.