The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) this week will begin new layers of entry screening at five U.S. airports.
The enhanced entry screening is being performed at JFK International Airport in New York and at Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O'Hare, and Atlanta international airports nationwide.
CDC is sending additional staff to each of the five airports. After passport review:
- Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will be escorted by CBP to an area of the airport set aside for screening.
- Trained CBP staff will observe them for signs of illness, ask them a series of health and exposure questions and provide health information for Ebola and reminders to monitor themselves for symptoms. Trained medical staff will take their temperature with a non-contact thermometer.
- If the travelers have fever, symptoms or the health questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, they will be evaluated by a CDC quarantine station public health officer. The public health officer will again take a temperature reading and make a public health assessment. Travelers, who after this assessment, are determined to require further evaluation or monitoring will be referred to the appropriate public health authority.
- Travelers from these countries who have neither symptoms/fever nor a known history of exposure will receive health information for self-monitoring.
Entry screening is part of a layered process that includes exit screening and standard public health practices such as patient isolation and contact tracing in countries with Ebola outbreaks. Successful containment of the recent Ebola outbreak in Nigeria demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach.
If an ill passenger does enter the U.S., CDC has protocols to protect against further spread of the disease. These include notification to CDC, local transportation authorities and local health authorities if there is an ill passenger on a plane before arrival, investigation of ill travelers, and, if necessary, isolation. CDC has also provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. CDC has issued a health alert notice reminding U.S. health care workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients, and how they can protect themselves from infection.