Ebola virus disease has become a serious epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases of the disease have been diagnosed in Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Spain and the USA, too. The virus causes haemorrhagic fever whose symptoms include high fever, diarrhoea, headache and bleeding.
The virus is transmitted through direct contact the body fluids or secretions of an infected patient. A person who has not developed symptoms of the disease is not infectious. Ebola does not spread through the air as for example influenza does.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs now advises against all travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Finnish citizens travelling in the region can find it very difficult to get any valid treatment for other health problems and, in addition, it is difficult for persons who have developed symptoms to exit the country. In normal circumstances, infected individuals' repatriation is not organised or paid by the State but by their employer or insurance company. In case they are not willing or capable of carrying out the repatriation, the first option is treatment of the patient locally.
Even though a tourist's risk of becoming infected is small, inefficient traffic and other services in society can pose problems. Tourists travelling in the Ebola region are advised to follow the health authorities' instructions to avoid infection and comply with their directions after a possible exposure to the virus.
Travellers elsewhere in Africa should observe the local health authorities' instructions concerning Ebola virus disease. The World Health Organisation, WHO, maintains a comprehensive news update on the spread of the disease and provides guidance related to health and protection.
According to experts, it is highly unlikely that the virus would cause a wide epidemic in Finland.