Africa visitor slips back into Oz without Ebola checks

WHILE worldwide panic rises over the Ebola virus, a Marcus Beach man slipped back into Australia with a minimum of fuss last week, after a sojourn to the heart of Africa.

Christopher Cooper spent three weeks in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria on a work trip last month.

"Every person coming into Australia is asked on the form if you'd been to Africa or South Africa in the last six days (which I confirmed I had)," he said.

"I was asked about my current yellow fever vaccination, but there was no questioning about Ebola."

A frequent flyer, Mr Cooper said he was more concerned about the risk of flying at present, rather than the chances of contracting a "one-in-170 million people" virus, but said he took simple steps to mitigate the risk while in Nigeria's Lagos Airport.

"In Lagos I avoided using toilets and as much as possible avoided large groups of people as well as using hand sanitiser after touching door handles and rails," he said.

"I'm planning to go back in November. I love the countries and I love the people, I'm concerned for them about Ebola, but I'm not visiting Ebola-affected countries. I'll just monitor the situation."

A Federal Department of Health spokeswoman said that all border organisations were on alert, despite the minor risk of an outbreak in Australia.

"While it is agreed by health experts that the risk of Ebola coming to Australia is very low, all airport border agencies are aware of the Ebola outbreak overseas and are alert to look out for people who are unwell in flight and at the airport," the spokeswoman said.

"Health authorities advise that the likelihood of an imported case of Ebola in Australia is very low, due to the low volume of travel from affected areas to Australia."

Mr Cooper said he felt there was no need for an overreaction to the situation.

"It's hard because there obviously needs to be concern but I think Ebola's always been present," he said.

"I wouldn't say that you start shutting down all the borders of Africa, it's not like a zombie movie."

DEADLY FACTS

Ebola outbreaks have a 90% case fatality rate

Fruit bats are considered to be the natural hosts of Ebola virus

Ebola first appeared in 1976

Virus is transmitted from wild animals to humans, and spread through human-to-human contact via bodily fluids

People remain infectious as long as the virus remains in their blood and secretions

Incubation period of the virus (time of infection to first symptoms appearing) ranges from two to 21 days

* From the World Health Organisation factsheet



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