CDC issues warning for Africa

August 5, 2014 |

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to travelers regarding a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa. According to the CDC, Americans are being encouraged to avoid nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia after a Level 3 warning was put in place by the government agency.

There is growing fear among many, including the World Health Organization, that the deadly virus is spreading at a faster rate than it can be controlled. 

"This is an unprecedented outbreak accompanied by unprecedented challenges," the WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in a statement. "And these challenges are extraordinary."

There are a number of dangers presented with this particular outbreak, as it is the first in West Africa and involved one of the most deadly strains, CNN reported.

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries," Chan's statement said.

Two Americans who contracted Ebola while working to help contain the virus in Liberia were flown back to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, near the CDC headquarters.

Travel warnings

The CDC recommends that those who must travel to these countries, such as individuals are doing humanitarian aid work in response to the outbreak, should avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of individuals who have contracted the virus.

By issuing the travel warning, the CDC hopes to prevent further spreading the disease throughout Africa while also protecting those in the U.S.

What travelers should know about Ebola

Ebola is a viral disease also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever and is rare. It's native to many countries in Africa and can be caused by an infection with one of the ebola​ viruses such as Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo or TaÏ Forest virus. Ebola can be spread by direct contact with an individual's blood or body fluids who has the illness. Coming into contact with contaminated objects and infected animals is another way to spread Ebola.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment that can prevent Ebola and travelers who are at risk are those who have come into contact with an ill person and health care providers who have cared for the ill as well as their subsequent friends and family. 

According to CNN, there have been as many as 909 confirmed cases of Ebola and as many as 1,323 possible cases in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. A total of 729 people have died so far after contracting Ebola.

Although Ebola is not very contagious, precautions should be taken before heading out on global travel to this particular part of the world.