Are the right steps being taken in the US to stop the spread of Ebola?


Travelers from West Africa to get fever screening for Ebola at 5 US airports, reports the Associated Press.

This report follows the announcement that the first person in the US has died from Ebola in Dallas.

Wendell Watson of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital says Thomas Eric Duncan died Wednesday morning.

Duncan arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 from Liberia and fell ill a few days later. He was sent home after an initial visit to the emergency room, but taken back to the hospital Sept. 28 and has been kept in isolation ever since.

Others in Dallas could be in danger as officials try to contain the virus that has ravaged West Africa, killing thousands of people. Officials say 10 people had direct contact with Duncan while he was contagious.

But at least one expert says the screenings wouldn’t have worked in Duncan’s case.

“It’s difficult to say, because the CDC hasn’t released many details yet. Larry Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, says the new requirements will likely mirror procedures already used in some West African airports: travel history, looking for signs for illness, and a temperature reading,” writes Anders Kelto at NPR.

When it comes to the likelihood of these interventions benefiting public health, Gostin is skeptical.

“Fever screening can be unobtrusive, but let’s not have the false impression that this is a tried-and-true method and it’s going to keep Ebola out of the United States,” he says. “It’s just not the case.”

In fact, there’s little evidence that fever screenings for arriving passengers do much to prevent the spread of Ebola or other diseases.

Consider the case of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who traveled to the U.S. from Liberia and is now in critical condition in a Dallas hospital. He would not have been detected either in Africa or the U.S. because he was not exhibiting any signs of the virus.

Additional outreach is being done on the local level, like in Minnesota’s Liberian community, writes MPR News reporter Matt Sepic. African immigrants are being urged not to travel home.

The warnings against travel to Liberia appear to be working. Travel agent Jannie Seibure said Liberians who already have bought tickets to return home for Christmas — and most Liberians in Minnesota are Christian — are cancelling their travel plans.

“In recent times, that’s all we see … a lot of refunds from passengers who had already made plans to travel to Monrovia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” Seibure said.

Today’s Question: Are the right steps being taken in the US to stop the spread of Ebola?

  • Jon

    Unless there’s someone out there playing with the vomit of one of the few infected people in the territory currently, then yes.