Airline Passenger Screening Vital To Stop Ebola From Spreading Outside West Africa, Study Suggests

News outlets report on a study published in The Lancet on Monday examining the potential spread of Ebola beyond West Africa via infected travelers. According to the study’s summary, screening airline passengers upon exit from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone “…would be the most efficient frontier at which to assess the health status of travelers at risk of Ebola virus exposure, however, this intervention might require international support to implement effectively.”

Associated Press: If no checks, more Ebola cases might leave Africa
“A new study underscores the potential danger of airplane passengers infected with Ebola leaving West Africa: If there were no exit screening in place, researchers estimate that three people with the disease might fly out of the region each month. The hardest-hit West African nations have been checking passengers since summer, but the new work is a reminder of how much easier it could be for the virus to travel outside the outbreak region if those measures weren’t in place — and that screening can’t catch every case…” (Cheng, 10/20).

Reuters: Study shows exit screening vital to halting global Ebola spread
“Three Ebola-infected travelers a month would be expected to get on international flights from the West African countries suffering epidemics of the deadly virus if there were no effective exit screening, scientists said on Tuesday…” (Kelland, 10/20).

Wall Street Journal: Ebola Study Projects Spread of Virus on Overseas Flights
“Up to three Ebola-infected people could embark on overseas flights every month from the three most-affected African countries, according to a new study that projected travel patterns based on infection rates and recent flight schedules. The findings, published Monday in the journal Lancet, suggest that Ebola cases could be spread overseas by unwitting travelers from the worst-hit countries — Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone…” (Naik, 10/20).

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