For most Americans, the word Ebola never rolled off their tongues until last month.

That all changed when Thomas Eric Duncan arrived in Dallas in September and was diagnosed and later died from the deadly virus, but not before infecting two nurses that were part of the team that treated him. 

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Cue the media and 24- hour news cycle -- and suddenly everybody in the country knows about Ebola and is concerned they might get it. 

The Ebola scare has sent the travel community into a tailspin and some travelers have cancelled trips –although these people are a minority.

Should Travelers Be Worried About Ebola?

No.  Unless you are planning to travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia, or hang out with someone who just returned from there, you shouldn’t worry about anything at this point in time.  Ebola is a sensational news story of the day.

What travelers need to understand is this; the news media loves a negative news story, especially one that conjures up images of a zombie apocalypse akin to the “Walking Dead.”  Instead of driving yourself to the limits of sanity and possibly cancelling your next cruise or vacation, listen to what Shepard Smith had to say recently: 

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Should Travel Be Banned from West Africa? 

There are no direct flights to the U.S. from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone — the West African nations hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak. 

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 150 passengers a day arrive at just five --albeit busiest--east coast airports (New York’s JFK and Newark, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O’Hare, and Atlanta), from those countries after making a connecting flight, usually in Europe.

According to a recent Fox News poll, 60 percent of voters say the U.S. should ban flights from countries where the virus has broken out.  

A U.S. ban on passengers from these countries could be instituted via the stoppage of travel visas.  This won’t prevent additional cases of Ebola reaching our shores, but will prevent direct travel and reduce the number of potentially infected travelers from arriving here via a connecting flight.   

The reason it can’t stop the spread is simple: travelers from these areas can still travel to many places and interact with family members, friends or business associates.  Nothing in a potential travel ban stops those who they come in contact with from traveling here themselves.  It’s a necessary step at this point to limit the spread given the 21-one day incubation period that this virus can stretch to.  It won’t, as some have suggested, prevent help from reaching these individuals in their respective countries. 

A travel ban will have a positive effect on other African nations that are being hit by the geographic limitations of travelers.  By banning travel from specific countries, travelers will understand that the rest of Africa, and the big tourism markets, are not affected at all.  In fact, there are now more cases in the United States than in all of the main tourism focused countries in all of Africa…combined! 

Ebola and Travel News

Should consumers even consider this latest news in their process of planning a particular trip?  Rational thinking goes out the window when one is confronted with hysteria and fear mongering.  But, it’s important to look at the facts.

While,  the spread of the virus could it get worse over the next several months if things are not contained, it’s important to remember to that, in a country with more than 300 million people, we currently have one confirmed death from Ebola.  

A final thought when considering travel in general, or travel to Africa in particular.  Think about where you live right now in the United States and tell me whether you’d be afraid to travel to Miami, New York, Des Moines, Salt Lake or even Dallas.  Would you?  Most people would have no reservation about traveling across and around the United States in light of Ebola.  Now for a perspective on Africa and whether you should be concerned about travel there or anywhere: Africa is three times the size of the United States.  Or thought another way, you could fit China, India and the United States into Africa and still have plenty of room to add in Eastern Europe and more. 

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Mark Murphy is a noted travel expert, author and founder of TravelPulse.com.  You can follow him on Twitter at @murphytravels.