Virginia Airport Prepares For Ebola’s Arrival

Dulles Airport adding staff to potentially screen passengers for infectious diseases such as Ebola
dulles airport
Africa (Vax Before Travel)

An administrative coordinator at the Northern Virginia Emergency Medical Services Council (NVEMSC) told the that Washington Dulles International Airport ‘has hired staff to potentially screen travelers for the Ebola virus.’

This job description on Linkedin says ‘Qualifications must include bloodborne pathogens training in the last 3 years.’ 

The article published on November 6, 2019, reported ‘It's unclear if the Dulles Airport previously employed Ebola screeners.’

Furthermore, the NVEMSC coordinator said ‘that all of these positions have been filled.’

But, Caduceus Healthcare has active employment postings for staff ‘to screen passengers that have traveled back from Ebola-affected nations. And, the position will include checking vital signs, temperature and having passengers fill out questionnaires.’

Recently, The Bahamas expressed similar concerns about the Ebola virus reaching its island.

The Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said on October 30th that they were on 'high alert' for visitors from Africa who may be carrying the Ebola Zaire virus.

These screening concerns are related to the ongoing Ebola Zaire outbreak in central Africa, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health threat during July 2019.

Since August 2018, there have been 3,285 confirmed cases of Ebola Zaire in central African countries, with a case fatality ratio of 67 percent, as of November 6, 2019.

And, there is an ever-present risk of this disease spreading outside of Africa since there are no travel restrictions. The current African Ebola outbreak has already spread to African countries adjacent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Given modern transportation capabilities, this risk is substantial. Traveling from Dulles Airport in northern Virginia to the DRC is just a 20-hour flight.

A previous, real-world case study, supports these new employment preparations at Dulles Airport, which processes about 11 million passengers each year.

During the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016, there were 3 Ebola cases reported in Dallas, Texas that were associated with airline travel.

The 2 nurses who cared for the sick Ebola patient also contracted Ebola, marking the first known transmission of this disease in the USA. The patient with Ebola died, and both nurses recovered.

The good news is there have not been any new Ebola cases reported in the USA since 2016.

In response to these Ebola cases, the US federal government designated 55 hospitals as Ebola treatment centers.

Two of these Ebola-ready facilities are located in Texas, at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB) and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

The UTMB unit has been prepared to accept patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases since early 2015. UTMB recently unveiled a state-of-the-art Biocontainment Care Unit specially designed to treat patients exposed to highly infectious diseases, such as Ebola.

This UTMB unit serves the states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

Susan McLellan, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of UTMB’s Biocontainment Care Unit, said in a previous statement, “The fact that we’re here, and we think about it, means that we won’t have someone accidentally being sent up to the general ward with something that could kill people.”

Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect people from the Ebola virus.

But, Merck’s Ervebo v920 (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP) became the 1st vaccine to obtain marketing approval in Europe for active immunization of individuals aged 18 years and older at risk of infection with the Ebola Zaire virus

This experimental Ebola Zaire vaccine candidate called Ervebo V920 (rVSV-ZEBOV) has been found to be highly protective (97.5%) against the Ebola Zaire virus in Africa.

And recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the 1st marketing approval of a rapid diagnostic test to detect Ebola virus antigens in human blood from certain living individuals. 

The OraQuick Ebola Rapid Antigen test provides a presumptive Ebola diagnosis.

To better inform international travelers of their health risks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the existing Level 2 Travel Alert regarding the Ebola Zaire outbreak in the DRC.

This August 29, 2019, Travel Alert says ‘travelers to this area could be infected with Ebola if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.’

‘The risk of Ebola infection for most travelers to DRC is low.’

But, the CDC says ‘travelers to the DRC should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising during or after travel.’

Furthermore, to adequately combat this Ebola outbreak, it requires funding.

The USA continues to be the largest country donor to the current Ebola response effort in Africa, with $158 million dollars of funding. 

Ebola vaccine news published by Vax-Before-Travel.


Article by
Dani Reiter