EBOLA Scare: Better Safe than Sorry

Photo from 
http://mountaingorillas.gorillacd.org/

I’ve just finished watching the film “Gorillas in the Mist” and
was dreaming of a nice little trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in
southwestern Uganda after my mission ends in two month’s time, as a gift to myself. After all, what
better way to treat one’s self than a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with our
closest and critically endangered relatives, the mountain gorillas?
Then I came upon shocking news of an ebola outbreak in
western Uganda that has already taken the lives of 14 people this month—one died in the
capital, Kampala. And it struck me how we, travelers, dive into our adventures,
taking little heed of things that can lead to bad things (I didn’t want to say “demise”).
Some of us, in a bid to stay in the league of hardcore backpackers, drink tap
water, eat street food, and munch on fried tarantulas and
grilled rats. We often share sleeping quarters with strangers in flea-infested
dormitories and jump into rickety old buses with humans and animals fighting
for space. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s part of the
experience, and it’s how we gain our badge of honor in the world of nomads. But
there’s no excuse for being careless.

Can’t blame them for trying to save the world.

Now ebola. The only thing I know about it is that it killed
quite a number of people in that film “Outbreak” and that had it not been for Dustin
Hoffman, the virus could have wiped out the entire human race. So I put my
research hat on and spent some time with my friend Google, and this is what we’ve
found:

Ebola is a form of hemorrhagic fever caused by a virus named
after a river in DR Congo where it was first discovered in 1976. A person
affected with the virus can exhibit a combination of symptoms such as
sudden-onset fever, headache, severe weakness, muscle and joint pains, stomach
pain, vomiting diarrhea, and may be accompanied by sore throat, rashes, red
eyes, hiccups, and internal and external bleeding. Around 90% of those affected
die from it, and the virus kills its host faster than it can transfer to
another.

It is believed that the disease are spread from infected
animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, and even antelopes. Some
scientists say bats may also be infected and play a great role in the spread
of the virus in the animal world.

Ebola is highly contagious but, contrary to popular belief, it is not airborne. It can be transmitted through
direct contact with an infected person like a simple handshake or through
contact with secretions or blood during kissing, lovemaking, and other body-fluid sharing activities—go figure.
There’s no vaccine for it and it has no cure. So better be
safe than sorry. Now what do we do to avoid contracting or spreading ebola?

  • Wave, don’t shake hands. If you do, wash your hands right away with soap and water. Or better yet, smile—for a longer life.
  • Abstain from having physical contact that entails exchange of bodily secretions (you know) especially if you suspect you or the other person might have been exposed to the virus. 
  • That exotic monkey leg stew that you’ve been salivating for? Dish it for now. I hear frogs legs are delicious. Should be a better alternative.
  • Do not attempt to be a hero and save someone from the claws of death. Leave the saving to trained health workers who know what to do. 

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