Airports screening passengers for possible Ebola exposure

African leaders flew to Washington D.C. Monday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In the midst of the Ebola outbreak, dozens of African leaders flew to Washington D.C. for the U.S – Africa summit. In fact, most airlines continue to fly in and out of Africa.

Federal agents at Washington D.C. and New York airports have received special training to look out for and isolate any passengers who may have been exposed to Ebola. One western Mass. resident said, “It is scary because that thing spreads like nothing, like a wildfire.”

A deadly virus with a mortality rate of up to 90 percent. Ebola has killed nearly one thousand people in West Africa, and the infection rate continues to increase.

Dr. Jackson Williams at Baystate Medical Center said “It has been an incredible stress to an already strained health care system. In Liberia, they only have one doctor for 100,000 population.”

However, despite the fear surrounding Ebola, the U.S. – Africa Summit began, as scheduled, on Monday in Washington D.C. Dozens of African leaders landed at U.S. airports and went through medical screenings.

Border patrol agents at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. and JFK Airport in New York have been told to ask travelers about any possible exposure to the virus. The agents also have to look out for anyone with possible Ebola symptoms.

Some people are still concerned. “We do our screening, but are we trusting the world to do what they need to do? So you know we have a lot of problems in this country already, we don’t need to bring more.”

Meantime one American doctor infected with Ebola landed in Atlanta, Georgia over the weekend, and another American will arrive Tuesday for treatment at a specialized, isolated unit at Emory University Hospital.

“I do think that was the right thing to do because the guy that was brought back from Africa was brought in in a moving emergency room, a moving containment area, so there’s a very little risk of an outbreak,” Jerry Loughman of East Longmeadow said.

Health officials say the risk among travelers is low because Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids… but still warn travelers to avoid all contact with infected patients.

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