The following was excerpted from National Public Radio: npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda
by ANDERS KELTO

September 09, 2014 11:57 AM ET

 

Ebola. The virus has dominated headlines for several months — and for good reason. The current outbreak is the worst in history, with more than 3,700 reported cases and 1,800 deaths as of Aug. 31.

 

So how worried should travelers to Africa be?

It’s not a simple question to answer, particularly because of the current outbreak’s unprecedented scope. But there are some reasons to breathe easy.

One is Africa’s geography. As this map shows, the continent is enormous —roughly the size of the U.S., China, India, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the U.K. and Eastern Europe combined. It’s huge.

How big is Africa? This illustration shows how many countries and regions could fit inside “the cradle of humankind.”

The Ebola outbreak is centered in four countries in a relatively small part of West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. There has also been one reported case in Senegal and a small, unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The distance from the heart of the outbreak to Nairobi, Kenya is roughly 3,300 miles. That’s about the distance from Orlando, Fla., to Juneau, Alaska. So, geographically speaking, canceling a trip to Kenya is like canceling a trip to Disney World because of an Ebola outbreak in Alaska.

Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, told us that Americans have a heightened sense of concern. “The level of fear in the U.S. is up here,” she said, raising her hand above her head. “It should be down here,” she added, moving her hand below her chest.