Today, US officials began enhanced Ebola screenings at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, the port of entry for roughly half of all travelers from West Africa. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced the new screening measures on Wednesday after Thomas Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US, died from the disease. The decision comes in response to growing fears in the US public that Ebola could easily spread into the country via international air travel. Duncan's diagnosis in Dallas on September 30th after arrival from West Africa amplified those fears.
As part of the new protocol, travelers arriving from Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone — the three nations at the epicenter of the outbreak — will be directed to a specified area for screening, according to the CDC. The travelers will be identified by stamps in their passports from the three affected countries. Staff will then monitor arrivals for signs of the disease, take their temperatures, and ask a number of questions to determine whether someone was likely in contact with Ebola. Those at risk will then be passed over to local health authorities for closer monitoring and possible isolation. Travelers who clear the process will be given a information sheet detailing the symptoms of Ebola.
Enhanced screenings will begin at four other US airports next week
Other than JFK, the same screening process will be put in place at Newark, Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, and Atlanta international airports starting next week. It's said that 94 percent of travelers from the affected region arrive at one of those airports. The stepped-up screening works alongside current procedures in West African airports, where outbound travelers are subject to similar processing before departure. Ebola is passed through direct contract with an infected individual and his bodily fluids. A person with the disease cannot pass it on until they are showing symptoms of Ebola.