Ebola Screening Begins at Newark International Airport - NBC New York

Ebola Screening Begins at Newark International Airport



    Local Hospitals Test Ebola Readiness

    There are new questions about how local hospitals would treat a possible Ebola patient, and Bellevue got another test Monday morning when two patients were brought in reporting symptoms. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Monday, Oct. 13, 2014)

    Screening for the Ebola virus is set to begin at Newark International Airport, less than a week after John F. Kennedy Airport workers began testing for the disease.

    Customs and health officials at the New Jersey airport will take the temperatures of passengers from three West African countries starting Thursday. Airports in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta also begin screening today.

    Federal health officials said the entry screenings, which began Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, add another layer of protection to halt the spread of the disease.

    Customs officials say about 150 people travel daily from or through Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the United States. Nearly 95 percent of them land first at Newark, JFK, Washington's Dulles International Airport, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport or at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

    Public health workers use no-touch thermometers to take the temperatures of the travelers from the three Ebola-ravaged countries; those who have a fever will be interviewed to determine whether they may have had contact with someone infected with Ebola. There are quarantine areas at each of the five airports that can be used if necessary.

    Health officials say they expect false alarms from travelers who have fever from other illnesses. Ebola isn't contagious until symptoms begin.

    There are no direct flights to the U.S. from the three countries, but Homeland Security officials said last week they can track passengers back to where their trips began, even if they make several stops. Airlines from Morocco, France and Belgium are still flying in and out of West Africa.

    The extra screening at U.S. airports probably wouldn't have identified Thomas Eric Duncan when he arrived from Liberia last month because he had no symptoms while traveling. Two nurses at the Texas hospital where he was treated were also diagnosed with the disease.

    The World Health Organization said Tuesday that West Africa could see up to 10,000 new infections a week within two months if the world's response to the crisis isn't stepped up.

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