Airport screenings haven’t turned up any Ebola patients

airplanedAirport screenings of travelers from West Africa haven’t turned up anyone with Ebola, health officials announced Tuesday.

U.S. officials screened nearly 2,000 travelers for Ebola symptoms over 31 days in October and November, according to a report Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only seven travelers with symptoms were referred to the CDC for medical exams, and none had the disease, the report says.

Although two travelers from West Africa were later diagnosed with Ebola — an American doctor and a Liberian national — neither had symptoms in the air or in airports.

The diagnosis in September of the first Ebola patient in the USA, Thomas Eric Duncan, led to widespread calls for travel bans from affected countries. While President Obama rejected an outright ban, the CDC announced in October that it would work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to screen travelers from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, funneling those air passengers through five major airports.

The CDC also has worked with the World Health Organization and officials in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the five hardest-hit countries, to screen passengers before they exit those countries.

About 80,000 air travelers have flown out of the three countries since August, about 12,000 of them bound for the USA, according to the CDC report. The three countries prevented anyone with possible Ebola symptoms, such as a fever, from boarding a plane. None of the travelers prevented from boarding turned out to have Ebola, the CDC says. (read more)