Can The Ebola Epidemic Spread Beyond Africa Through International Air Travel?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Ismat Sarah Mangla
July 29 2014

The Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the world’s deadliest so far, has claimed 672 lives. But news Friday the disease killed a passenger who flew from Monrovia, Liberia, to Lagos, Nigeria, has raised concerns about whether the epidemic will spread beyond West Africa through international air travel.

Asky, the major West African airline that flew ill-fated passenger Patrick Stewart to Nigeria, announced Tuesday it would suspend all flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone as a result. Arik Air, the biggest airline in Nigeria, grounded flights to those countries Sunday.

The World Health Organization, however, has not yet imposed travel restrictions on the area while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is simply urging travelers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to take “enhanced precautions” that include avoiding contact with bodily fluids from potentially infected people.

“It’s true that anyone with an illness is just one plane ride away from coming to the U.S.,” John O’Connor, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News. “But we have protections in place.”

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