Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola Virus Taking A Toll On Tourism And Travel

Carnival Cruise ship.  Brevard Times / File photo.

The recent spread of the Ebola virus in the U.S. and abroad is starting to affect the tourism and travel industry as potential travelers and vacationers re-think their future travel plans.

The cruise ship industry and their related stocks are being hit particularly hard despite a drop in fuel prices.  Carnival Cruise stocks are under pressure after the cruise giant had to change itineraries due to Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. 

Airline stocks are also taking a tumble due to passenger fears of contracting travel-related Ebola.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control announced just today that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola in Texas traveled by air October 13, the day before she reported symptoms.  The CDC is now attempting to track down all 132 passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13.

"I think that cruise ships might be the most vulnerable of the travel and leisure cohort, maybe even more than airplanes, which themselves have a huge problem. It's simply disruptive to their business," said CNBC financial commentator Jim Cramer.

Ebola Facts:

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.  The average fatality rate is around 50%. 

The virus was originally transmitted to people in Africa from non-human primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) and then spread into the human population through human-to-human transmission. 

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history. There have been cases reported in the U.S., Spain, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Although some cruise ships have a ship's registry in West Africa, this does not neccesarily mean that the ship has recently traveled to West Africa.

There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola.

The CDC recommends the following tips to prevent Ebola contamination:
  • Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.