WHO Discouraging Ebola-Related Travel Bans

The risk of transmitting the disease during air travel remains low, the World Health Organization reiterated Aug. 14.

There is no reason to impose bans on international trade or travel out of fear of spreading the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, the World Health Organization reiterated Aug. 14, standing by its position that the risk of transmitting the disease during air travel is low. "Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne," said Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, director of WHO's Global Capacity Alert and Response. "It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease."

Even if someone on a plane is sick with Ebola, there is little likelihood other passengers and crew would have contact with their body fluids because someone who is sick with Ebola usually is so unwell that he or she cannot travel, according to WHO.

"Because the risk of Ebola transmission on airplanes is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola," Nuttall said.

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