The stock market has dropped to its lowest point in three years. Travelers are cancelling trips all over the place. And the government is trying to assure the public that there is no crisis. No real threat. Rest assured, folks, this is a serious health threat. And will continue to be until it is under control in West Africa, which will hopefully be before it spreads around the world.
But it is not all doom and gloom. The good news is that Nigeria has eliminated Ebola threat (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-nigeria-stopped-ebola-2014-10). And the U.S. has sent aid to West Africa to help put an end to this epidemic. They have also FINALLY began advanced airport screenings at the five major airports where 94% of all travelers arriving from West Africa fly into. More good news, it is a low number. Only about 150 passengers arrive in the U.S. each day from these high risk countries. I say “Finally” because while I know the wheels of government turn ever-so-slowly, this plan should have been implemented the day we found out a man infected with Ebola made it all the way from Liberia to Dallas, Texas without detection–not weeks later after his death. And can you believe that he was taken to the emergency room where he told them he had just arrived from Liberia. They ran routine tests but could find nothing wrong with him, so they sent him on his way with some antibiotics. Seriously???
Well, at least we’re taking it seriously now.
New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport introduced the program last week, subjecting passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to the enhanced screening. The testing began today for Washington Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
“The expanded screening measures provide this layer of protection to the already established protocols to minimize the risk of another case of Ebola here in the United States,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.“No matter how many of these procedures are put into place, we can’t get the risk to zero,” said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the division of global migration and quarantine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This will not be the case but this additional layer should add a measure of security to the American public. This entry screening procedure, for example, would not necessarily have caught the patient in Dallas.”
According to the World Health Organization, more than 8,400 people are believed to have contracted the disease as of this month. Of those, more than 4,000 have died.
FYI: The incubation period is 21 days and during that time the infected person may not have a fever or any other signs of being infected. We have been told that it can only be transmitted through bodily fluids, but given that some people have gotten it (without any bodily fluids risk) we have to be concerned that it can indeed be transmitted in other way (s).
Do I think this screening process is enough? No, but it’s a good start. Am I advocating foregoing travel in the foreseeable future? No, of course not. I’m advocating you educate yourself about Ebola and the risks and then make an informed decision. I would certainly recommend you avoid travel to West Africa right now, especially to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Also, if you are traveling to Africa, you should make sure of your connections. For example, when traveling to South Africa, most flights stop in Dakar, Senegal (West Africa) before continuing on to Johannesburg or Cape Town. However, this stopover in West Africa may not show up on your airline ticket. You need to talk to the airline or your travel agent/tour operator to verify your route.