Airports Safeguarding Against Ebola


Twenty airports across the United States have been outfitted with quarantine stations, and staff members are on the lookout for potential Ebola carriers. Trained health officials are watching passengers, prepared to isolate and monitor anyone with Ebola-like symptoms, which include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, vomiting and diarrhea.

“If you’re a passenger on a plane and you say you’re sick, you will be met when you land by the [Centers for Disease Control],” CDC spokesman David Daigle told the New York Post.

In China, airport officials are scanning crowds of disembarking passengers with thermal scanners, searching for anyone with a fever. This preventative screening method was previously used in 2005 when avian flu was a concern.

At Lungi International Airport (FNA) in Sierra Leone, which is close to ground zero for the virus, four direct flights to London continue operating weekly. Passengers traveling on these flights, though, must wash their hands in chlorine-treated water and submit to a temperature scan. just ran one of their long-form journalism pieces, and it reveals 35 countries are only one flight away from the Ebola-infected areas.

The deadly virus appears to have a 21-day incubation period, and victims are contagious only when they begin to show symptoms.

Thursday, health officials warned Americans not to travel to the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Ebola has killed more than 700 people this year. The virus was first discovered in West Africa in 1976.

The last time the CDC issued such a high-level warning was in 2003 during a SARS outbreak in Asia.

“The bottom line is Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told CBS. He called Ebola “a tragic, dreadful and merciless virus.”

The World Health Organization has not issued a travel warning for the West Africa region.

The current outbreak is the worst on record. Fatality rates approach 90 percent. There is no vaccine or known cure aside from symptomatic treatment efforts, such as staying hydrated.

The virus is contagious and spreads through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from a carrier. Casual contact or breathing the same air won’t do it — it is not like the flu.

The CDC says that the risk of a traveler bringing the Ebola virus to the United States remains tiny. The agency did, however, send a health alert to doctors, updating them about the outbreak and stressing that they should ask patients with Ebola-like symptoms about their foreign travels.

Frieden said a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States “is not in the cards.”

“While it’s possible that someone could become infected with the Ebola virus in Africa and then get on a plane to the United States, it’s very unlikely that they would be able to spread the disease to fellow passengers,” said Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

In the latest news, the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta says it will treat at least one of two American aid workers that contracted Ebola in Liberia. The hospital has a specially built isolation unit.

[Photo: iStock]


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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • merrickdb at 6:52am August 02, 2014

    China, along with Hong Kong, has been temperature screening all incoming passengers for years now. It’s nothing new for Ebola.

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