Wittenberg students traveling to Lesotho, Africa were not affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus, according to Dr. Scott Rosenberg of the History Department.
Rosenberg also said that future Lesotho trips will not be affected because the outbreaks have not occurred anywhere near Lesotho.
“The Ebola outbreak is thousands of miles and numerous countries away from Lesotho, and therefore is not a problem there,” said Rosenberg.
The Ebola virus is a highly infectious disease and has proven to be a major problem in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal with 3,500 confirmed cases in these countries, and of those, 1,900 people have died from the disease as of Sept. 3, according to democracynow.org.
The virus has flared up in Africa in the past, but never with a magnitude as big as the current outbreak. Additionally, West Africa has never been affected as it is now.
Rosenberg said that this large-scale outbreak is due to the urban region in which it has spread (as opposed to the rural regions in which the virus has historically spread), the weak infrastructure of countries wrecked by year of civil war, a lack of education about the virus, and the immense poverty which leaves the countries with limited to no resources.
“I’m not blaming the governments at all,” said Rosenberg. “The countries just do not have the resources to deal with such a large-scale outbreak.”
Other Wittenberg students, including Stephanie Glass, ’17, and Nick Stadler, ’16, also traveled to Africa over the summer, but were not directly affected by the outbreak. Glass traveled to Cameroon, Stadler to Kenya.
In Kenya, Stadler worked for two different orphanage complexes entitled, “Mission to the Fatherless,” and Glass did mission work with “Athletes in Action.”
While Stadler was in Kenya, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Kenya as a high-risk country for the outbreak, mainly due to the Nairobi airport that has 70 flights per week flying in and out of West Africa, according to Stadler.
He also said that although Kenya itself had not contracted the virus, people were somewhat worried about it spreading.
“It is no secret that Africa can be a breeding ground for certain viruses if certain precautions are not met,” said Stadler.
Stadler’s main fear throughout the trip was a flight cancellation as a result of the scare.
In spite of the magnitude of the outbreak, Stadler said that the government appeared to be very calm about the situation, which he believed to be a misleading.
“The government will do anything to keep westerners coming, which ultimately means more money for the country,” said Stadler.