Tag Archives: travel safety

The Facts about Ebola

What is Ebola?

The Ebola virus is a serious, usually fatal, disease for which there are no licensed treatments or vaccines. It belongs to a group of diseases known as ‘viral haemorrhagic fevers’ (VHF). ‘Haemorrhagic’ means that they can involve bleeding. Lassa fever, yellow fever and Marburg fever are other examples of VHFs.

The current outbreak of Ebola is the largest ever known. It mainly affects three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In the worst affected areas authorities have implemented measures to control the spread of the virus, including quarantine, border closure and entry and exit screening. So far there have only been a few cases outside of these countries.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has direct, unprotected contact with an infected person or their contaminated items, such as needles. Healthcare workers, laboratory workers and family members of infected people are at the highest risk.

The risk of Ebola transmission is low. Becoming infected requires direct, physical contact with the bodily fluids (vomit, faeces, urine, blood, semen, etc.) of a person who has been infected with, or died from, Ebola virus disease (EVD). Business travellers are generally considered at low risk in urban areas with good sanitation and hygiene. Travellers to remote undeveloped areas in those countries affected are at higher risk.

How is it spread?

There are two ways people can become infected with the Ebola virus, either from contact with infected animals or by coming into unprotected contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person. However simply washing hands with soap and water can destroy the virus.

When a person is infected, precautions must be taken to prevent an outbreak. Strict hygiene, sanitation and infection control procedures minimise the risk. Breast milk and semen can remain infectious for several months after recovery.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Symptoms develop between 2 and 21 days after exposure. An infected person will typically experience:

  • A sudden onset of fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain and intense weakness
  • A sore throat
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain
  • In some cases organ failure, internal and external bleeding

An infected person usually does not become infectious until after they have developed symptoms.

How is Ebola diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis is made based on the symptoms and history of exposure together with specialised blood tests. There is currently no cure for Ebola virus disease. People diagnosed are placed in quarantine in intensive care, where their blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are maintained and their organs are supported. Early treatment in specialised units increases the chance of recovery.

Staying safe

When abroad:

  • Restrict travel to undeveloped remote areas of the African continent where sanitation and hygiene are poor;
  • Pay strict attention to hygiene – always – wherever you are;
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly;
  • Do not touch the blood, body fluids or secretions of any person or animal
  • Only eat well cooked meat;
  • Drink only clean water from a confirmed source and avoid ice cubes;
  • Avoid bats, primates, and bush meat, and forest animals that are sick or found dead.


When in developed countries:

  • Pay strict attention to hygiene – always – wherever you are;
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly – always, even in your home country
  • Drink only fresh water;
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and dispose of tissue in the toilet. Then wash your hands;
  • Ensure door knobs, handrails, office equipment, etc are regularly wiped down.

Following this advice will also help to protect you from more prevalent contagious diseases like flu, the norovirus and the common cold.

Useful resources

International SOS Ebola: What business travellers need to know

NHS Ebola virus disease: an overview

World Health Organisation

Travel advice


Amalgamate’s Occupational Health team can provide training, information, support and advice to companies with employees travelling and working in affected areas. Please contact us directly if you require further information.

Resources for Safer Travel

Many of us now frequently travel for work – sometimes to a city a couple of hours away, sometimes to more far-flung destinations such as Asia and the Middle East. So, how do we ensure that we’re keeping risks low while we’re away?

There’s a range of factors to consider, including how far afield you’re travelling, what transport you’ll be using, and where you’ll be staying, but in any case it’s worth doing a bit of research before you go, and using some of the many useful websites out there to help you plan to stay safe. For today, let’s talk about travel outside the UK.

As soon as you know you’ll be heading overseas, it’d be a good idea to check out these two websites: the UK Government’s foreign travel advice page – which has heaps of useful and up-to-date country-specific information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, and even natural disasters!; and NaTHNaC – which provides detailed health information including prevalent illnesses and required or recommended immunisations.

There are a number of websites now that offer advice on personal safety while travelling, including guidance on fire safety in hotels, personal safety advice tailored to women travelling alone, and information on different types of cons and scam artists that seek to part you from your possessions. To get current information on things to watch out for (as well as great ways to spend your downtime), you can take a look at the Lonely Planet forum for the country or city you’re visiting.

Make sure that while you’re away you’re not completely dependent on the internet for help, as internet access won’t necessarily always be available. It’s a good idea to have the local emergency services numbers stored in your phone (you may not remember them when under pressure) and leave copies of your travel documents and credit card details with a trusted person back home in case of theft or loss.

With a bit of research and forethought you can reduce the chances of an unpleasant experience while away, so you can concentrate on the important things – like getting your work done quickly so you can go check out the sights!

Amalgamate Safety