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RIC passengers move past Ebola concerns

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Most passengers flying out of Richmond International airport (RIC) are focused on one thing; getting to their destinations.

"I just want to get to my gate," said Noreen Atkins, RIC passenger. "I'm hoping the flight is on time, and I want to go where I'm going."

But news of an Ebola patient passing through Washington Dulles International airport has air travelers here concerned over their own health.

"It's a dangerous virus and it's not something I want to have exposed to me," said Valerie Houk, RIC passenger.

But doctors at VCU Medical center say the virus does not pose a huge public health risk in the US because the disease is not airborne.

"It's not casual contact like shaking hands with someone or saying hello," said Gonzalo Bearman, Chief of Infectious diseases, VCU Medical center. "But actually caring for a patient who's infected with Ebola and touching their secretions or being near them when they sneeze or cough."

Gonzalo Bearman says Ebola is a severe viral infection in which the symptoms can stay in the body for up to 21 days before you become infected.

"So, you could've been infected and don't know it," he said. "And you feel perfectly fine and you enter the country without symptoms and you pass through the screen."

But Bearman said any patients who've contracted the Ebola virus would be taken to isolated areas of the hospital for treatment.

"We're ready to identify and then we have isolation precautions in place with the appropriate personal protective treatment in the negative pressure rooms to triage patients for safety," said Bearman.

​Which is why passenger Noreen Atkins says she'll practice good hygiene, and won't let concern keep her from flying.

"I travel a lot for work," she said. "So, it's a necessity."

The CDC will notify an airline when it learns that an infectious person traveled on that carrier.  The airline will then turn over its flight manifest to the CDC.  That allows health officials to notify other passenger who were on board and deal with crew members.

RIC spokesman Troy Bell issued a statement.

“The CDC has been actively providing information to international travelers, health officials, and screening personnel at airports. While the effort is presently focused on international gateway facilities which are more likely to encounter travelers who are returning from regions affected by Ebola, the communications are being received beyond the gateways, including at RIC.”

3 comments

  • trina

    Obama waives the quarantine rules in 2010 exposing us to this.Britain and France block flights from Liberia.Obama says dont worry ,if you like your ebola you can keep your ebola.Illegal Latin American immigrants placed across the country and no surprise we now see polio(the mystery paralysis) and the respiratory illness attacking our kids.

    • mbaker9105

      Blocking flights is worthless if one single country allows flights. Britain isn’t blocking flights from non-infected countries, and I think this guy connected though Denmark? Once that happens he’s free to go anywhere. Total quarantine is the way, and even that isn’t really possible. By now, each person he contacted here has contacted 10 more, and each of those 10 more, so on and so on, and people drive, fly, take trains etc. So that cat is probably out of the bag. As for the airlines, TSA stated “U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency’s examiners at airports and other ports of entry are trained to spot people who could be infected with Ebola. CBP personnel are conducting “passive surveillance” for overt signs of illness which include questioning passengers and notifying the CDC if necessary at all U.S. ports of entry, including all federal inspection services areas at U.S. airports that handle international flights”. So that guy with a stick, white shirt, hat, and attitude is their current form of control? Greeeaaat…..

  • terri

    yea and this guys family is told to stay at home so what do they do,go out on the town.Just shows some people cannot even follow directions.I say anyone known to have this or the other sicknesses brought by the illegals now killing our children should be moved into the white house with obama and his kids.

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