NEW YORK (CNN) – The death toll continues to climb as the deadly Ebola virus takes more lives, including a top doctor from Sierra Leone who studied the disease. U.S. health officials in West Africa scrambling to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from reaching the states.
“Certainly serious diseases are only a plane ride away,” said Dr. Marty Cetron, CDC Director of Global Migration and Quarantine.
Right now U.S. health officials are searching for anyone who may have had contact with this U.S. citizen, Patrick Sawyer. He recently flew from Liberia, to the heavily populated city of Lagos, and died there from Ebola on Friday, not long before he was supposed to fly home to Minnesota, according to his wife.
“With Patrick’s death, it has hit our front door, because he was well known in the community. Everyone knew him, so everyone feels like they lost their best friend or their brother,” said Decontee Sawyer, Patrick’s widow.
Right now two American aide workers infected with Ebola are fighting for their lives, undergoing treatment at an isolation center there. Since March it has spread across several nation’s borders in Africa, with more than 1,000 cases being reported in guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 600 of those infected have died.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has issued an alert to health care workers in the U.S. to watch out for any patients who may have recently traveled to West Africa and could have contracted the virus.
The CDC sent guidance to American air carriers on how to identify and deal with American passengers displaying signs of Ebola and how to disinfect aircraft after an infected passenger leaves the plane.
“Airline carriers, crew members, airports can be a very important partner in that front line,” said Dr. Cetron.
At least one international airline has suspended all flights to Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown in Sierra Leone. Liberia is closing some of its borders and screening all incoming and outgoing passengers for Ebola at its airports. Problem is, current tests detect Ebola only after a person shows symptoms, and most of the early symptoms are something you see in passengers all the time fever, sore throat, chills, muscle aches and nausea.