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... is a family of rare but very serious viral diseases which have attracted attention due to the severity of their symptoms.

They are characterised by severe influenza type symptoms, which become a lot more serious as the disease progresses. However the hemorrhagic symptoms of bleeding from areas such as the eyes and ears occur in less than ten percent of cases.

These diseases originate in the forests of tropical equatorial Africa, but are not now thought to have been spread by primates. Instead bats are now thought to be the most likely natural reservoir, with transmission via their faeces into the food chain.

It is not thought likely that ebola will ever become epidemic, primarily because it does not spread by aerosol but only via contact with bodily fluids. However the fact that it can be spread by artificially generated aerosols has led it to be designated as a Category A biological weapon.

Outbreaks have been generally limited to Central and West Africa, with between 10 and 1000 reported deaths in each, usually in remote rural populations.

Read more about ebola in Wikipedia.

2014 outbreak ...

The largest recorded outbreak of ebola took place during the second half of 2014, primarily in the three countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa.

This outbreak was very serious for local people and caused a huge amount of disruption in those countries.

However the bigger story ultimately turned out to be the way in which the outbreak was vastly over-reported in the worldwide media, largely fuelled by reported from the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, whose ridiculous estimates of potential casualties turned out to be over one hundred time overstated. The situation was again exaggerated by many of the leading aid agencies, who cynically used the crisis as means of raising funds.

The collateral damage that was experienced by the economies of countries across Africa was vast, amounting to many billions of dollars. The damage sustained within the safari industry and the knock on effects on conservation across the continent have been really serious. The numbers of people going on safari during that period fell by around 50% even though none of the safari countries hosted a single case of the virus and places like Nairobi and Johannesburg are all further away from and much lesser connected to the affected countries than Paris or London.

Current situation ...

Fortunately the epidemic subsided by the start of 2015 and the countries of west and central Africa should now be in a better position to respond to any further episodes with much greater vigour and efficiency, meaning that we will hopefully never see a return of the disease on this scale.

The chances of a safari traveller catching ebola whilst visiting in the countries in which we operate is virtually zero, to our knowledge it has never happened.
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Jay Hanson
Jay Hanson, Senior Safari Consultant
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