US to redirect travelers from Uganda to five airports for Ebola testing

The United States will immediately begin redirecting travelers from Uganda to five U.S. airports to screen them for Ebola and track them while they are in the country, a senior administration official said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will perform temperature screening and risk assessment on anyone who has been in Uganda for the past 21 days, the incubation period for the deadly Ebola virus, the official said. State and local public health officials will track them for 21 days after they arrive, the official said.

The airports are: JFK International Airport in New York, Washington Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Most of the 145 people who arrive daily from Uganda already land at these airports. There are no direct flights from Uganda, where the outbreak began last month, to the United States.

Ebola virus disease is a rare and often fatal disease bleeding disease that causes fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite and gastrointestinal symptoms as well as unexplained bleeding. Unlike covid-19, the virus is not transmitted by airborne droplets, but is highly contagious. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, including blood, urine, feces, saliva, or other secretions from someone who has symptoms or has died from the disease; infected animals or contaminated objects such as needles, according to the CDC.

There are no known cases in the United States, and the government believes the risk to the public here is low, according to the official. But the CDC has told clinicians to be on the lookout for people with symptoms and to take a travel history of any patient who has them.

Uganda is screening for the virus on exit, and other African countries in the region are also screening arrivals for symptoms of the virus.

Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, agreed that the risk to the American public is low and endorsed the government’s decision to take preventive measures.

“It’s about having strong oversight practices in place,” she said. Although the virus’s long incubation period can make temperature checks ineffective, she said, keeping tabs on anyone who has been to Uganda is a smart move.

Katz said the recent pandemic will likely dampen reaction to Ebola news among some, but not all, of the public. “People are aware of infectious diseases. There is now a literacy around understanding the different types of transmission,” she said.

No cases of the new Sudanese strain of Ebola virus have been reported outside Uganda, where 44 confirmed cases, 10 confirmed deaths and 20 probable deaths from the virus have been identified since the outbreak began in September. according to the CDC. It is the fifth outbreak of the Sudanese strain of the virus in Uganda since 2000, the health agency said.

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra spoke with Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Aceng Ocero and pledged continued US support for Ugandan efforts against the virus, according to a report. HHS spokesperson.

There are a vaccine against the Zaire strain of the virus, which caused two major epidemics in Africa – in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2018 to 2020 – which sickened tens of thousands of people. But a vaccine against the Sudanese strain in development has not yet been tested on a large scale and there is no cure for the disease.

During the 2014-2016 outbreak that swept through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, 11 people have been treated for Ebola in the United States, two of whom died, despite similar screenings at the airport. Nine of those cases were brought into the country and two others were health workers infected while caring for a man who arrived with the disease. Both workers recovered.


A previous version of this article had misspelled the name of Ugandan Minister of Health, Jane Aceng Ocero. The article is corrected.

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