If there’s one positive thing to come out of the latest Ebola outbreak it’s that the rest of the world may learn a little about Africa, its size and the location of its many countries! Update below.
Any South African abroad has been asked at least once where exactly on the continent South Africa is, and whether we may know their friend who lives in Egypt. And those are questions from the smarter people. Others think Africa is a country.*
So when Ebola broke out on the West Coast of Africa, it didn’t take long for an airline to cancel all its flights to Kenya on the East Coast of Africa, and for several tourists to postpone their trips to South Africa (in the south of Africa in case that’s still not clear!). They heard Africa had Ebola and they didn’t want to go near it. They had no idea that there are countries in Europe closer to where the Ebola outbreak is than South Africa!
Until Anthony England (@EbolaPhone) tweeted a brilliantly plain image of Africa pinpointing exactly where the Ebola Virus Disease currently is…and where it is not. “I wanted the most simple possible,” he said.
On the blank map, which he sourced from Canuckguy, Anthony wrote: “This map is intended for the ‘Geographically Challenged’ only. If you’re certain that it’s lacking some details, then you already know quite enough.”
He clarified that by ‘NO EBOLA’, he means no current confirmed patients and no current confirmed infectious outbreak.
The map went viral, spreading faster than Ebola, with people from Africa begging their friends overseas to please share it and get the word out there. Anthony is even providing translated versions of the map to those who send in translations from their country.
According to his Twitter profile, Anthony (who is British) is a PhD Chemist/Entrepreneur who has worked in Ghana and Senegal, and now lives in Utrecht in The Netherlands.
He was inspired to make the map and enlighten some people after reading a post by Shannon Ragland (@JuryReporter) who asked: “Is St. Margaret Mary the dumbest school in Louisville? Teacher resigns because ebola scare. She was in KENYA!”
The teacher – Susan Sherman – resigned from her school in Kentucky, USA after undue pressure was put on her by students, teachers, parents and parishioners because of her annual trip to Kenya for mission work.
Sherman blamed her resignation on the ignorance of people in the community. There has not been a single reported case of Ebola in Kenya. Its capital, Nairobi, is over 5,600 km away from the Ebola hotspots.
Frustrated by the ignorance – which leads to scare-mongering – Anthony created his map.
The map is being shared by everyone from housewives in Kentucky to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kenya…and will soon be coming to a T-shirt near you (with proceeds going to #Ebola).
Anthony told The Washington Post in an email that this Ebola outbreak is proof that the West needs to pay more attention to what happens in Africa.
“In the case of this Ebola outbreak, a problem which does not yet have a scientific solution and which started in a village in the developing world is actually visiting New York City and the West. Eventually the rich world will realize that it makes no sense to leave one part of the world struggling in poverty with such terrible national infrastructures. Before it’s done, this Ebola outbreak might teach them all that.”
Update as of 15 November 2014:
Here is the most recent version of the map from Anthony England:
Some Facts about Ebola – from CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
A person infected with Ebola can’t spread the disease until symptoms appear
The time from exposure to when signs or symptoms of the disease appear (the incubation period) is 2 to 21 days, but the average time is 8 to 10 days.
Signs of Ebola include fever (higher than 101.5°F) and symptoms like severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids
Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with:
- Blood and body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.
- Objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.
- Ebola is not spread through the air, water, or food.
Protect yourself against Ebola
To protect yourself from Ebola:
- DO wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do NOT touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of people who are sick.
- Do NOT handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes, bedding, needles, or medical equipment.
- Do NOT touch the body of someone who has died of Ebola.
VIDEO – In my Africa + Lryics (song heard on Arthur about the 54 countries in Africa)
With the trending of Anthony England’s map and some focus on learning a little more about Africa…this video, uploaded a year ago, has enjoyed a renewed popularity:
* For all our lovely (and we mean that!) friends from foreign countries – we’re sure there are South Africans who are equally clueless about continents they don’t live on like Asia and South America. And to be honest, some of us are even a little hazy on the geography of Africa north of our borders. But we’re just pleased that more people are learning about our continent.