Health warning over ebola outbreak

31 July 2014 09:37

Africa travellers have been urged to take out travel insurance in light of the recent ebola outbreak

Africa travellers have been urged to take out travel insurance in light of the recent ebola outbreak

Travellers planning a trip to Africa should start assessing their options for Africa travel insurance after the recent ebola outbreak was declared the largest in history.

More than 670 people in west African countries such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria have now died from the virus, including Dr Sheikh Humarr Khan, a virologist who helped treat hundreds of patients.

A doctor and a missionary from the United States have also contracted ebola and are now being monitored in hospital - which caused two American missionary groups to evacuate all non-essential members of staff from Sierra Leone.

West African airline ASKY has cancelled all flights to the Liberian capital, Monrovia, and Freetown in Sierra Leone, after a 40-year-old American took several flights across the continent while infected with ebola.

Patrick Sawyer, who was originally from Liberia, died this week after reportedly catching the virus from his sister, who has also died.

Meanwhile, British airport staff, border officials and health experts are being urged to watch out for symptoms of the deadly disease to prevent it from spreading in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) issued a medical alert to doctors in the UK, asking them to look out for "unexplained illness" in people who have travelled to the affected regions.

Dr Brian McCloskey, PHE's director of global health, said the ebola outbreak was the "most acute health emergency" facing the UK, adding that the situation was "clearly not yet under control".

Ebola, which kills up to nine in 10 patients, has been described by the World Health Organisation as one of the most virulent diseases in the world - and no treatment or vaccine exists. The incubation period is up to three weeks after infection.

People usually infect themselves by coming into direct contact with an infected person's blood, body fluids, or tissues. Infected animals can also spread the disease.

This means that hospital staff and other health workers are most at risk of infection, along with relatives and others who have been in close contact with the patient - for example fellow passengers on a plane.

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