Ebola And Surf Travel

Beachbreak blues or beachbreak bliss? All of the above. Photo: DJ StruntzMozambique. Photo: DJ Struntz

You bleed out of your eyes! There are more cases than what’s being reported! Not even the USA is apt to handle an epidemic! A stroll through the SEO-friendly alleys of Google will give you all the sensational information — some of it cold hard fact, some of hot spicy rumor — that you never knew you wanted to know about the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It’s a tangle of worry and it’ll steal hours of peaceful sleep from you. Still, Ebola is a serious problem. This is the worst outbreak of the virus since its discovery in 1976. And you actually might bleed out of your eyes.

But should it light the flames of fear within you? Like, are you going to die? With reported deaths nearing 5000 and no end in sight, the fever is a very severe and obvious threat to health worldwide. But with the current amount of reported cases hovering just over 10,000 of the world’s 7,000,000 people, there’s no need to be slipping into a hazmat suit just yet (unless you live in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone). Ebola is a full-blown crisis — a beast of devastation — but it’s important to know the facts before you hit the Y2K button.

Last week, I put on my journalism pants and emailed the CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for those of you in the dark — with a list of travel-related questions. And, well, they never answered. Too busy controlling and preventing diseases I suppose. So I called them. I spoke with a lovely woman named Marlene and she had the sweetest southern accent you could ever imagine. I bet she was a real belle. Marlene and her Mississippi River of a voice were kind enough to run me through the facts about how one would go about contracting the virus.

—There are three ways that Ebola is transmitted: 1)The blood or body fluids of an infected individual. 2) Contact with materials contaminated with the virus. 3) Eating or coming in contact with animals infected with Ebola.
—Ebola is not spread through air, water or food.
—Ebola is only contagious when the infected individual is showing symptoms.
—The more severe the symptoms that are being exhibited, the more contagious that individual is.

Simple? Sure. But enlightening nonetheless. There are a few conclusions we can draw from that, some dos and don’ts for those planning to travel sometime soon. Namely:

—Don’t eat African bushmeat.
—If the person next to you on the plane has a light cough, you’re not going to get Ebola.
—If the person next to you on the plane is bleeding out of their face, don’t touch the blood and find a new seat.
—Don’t French kiss a person who has recently been around someone with Ebola unless they’ve been symptom-free for 21 days, which the virus’ incubation period.
—Unless you’re a medical professional hoping to help with the crisis, you probably shouldn’t go to West Africa right now.

Other than that, you should be able to travel without worry. Click here for more preventive measures from the CDC (Example: Avoid hospitals in West Africa — kind of common sense) and here for more information about Ebola’s symptoms. And if you have enough money to be considering a surf trip, you have enough money to consider donating to the organizations risking their lives to save others in fight against Ebola. I’d recommend Doctors Without Borders. Those guys rip. —Brendan Buckley