Doctors Say Air Travelers Not At Risk For Ebola Infection

DETROIT (WWJ) – Imagine you’re cooped up on a plane and the person next to you sneezes. Instead of worrying about catching a cold, could you be at risk for the Ebola virus?

With Ebola topping the news nationwide, WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites says it’s understandable to be concerned if you’re going to be in close quarters on an airplane; but the experts say air travel is safe because the virus is not transmitted through the air.

“Flying around the country, flying even outside the country is probably incredibly safe, in terms of the risk of catching Ebola,” said Beaumont Hospital infectious disease expert Dr. Matthew Sims. “Certainly people are worried about flying to or from Africa — with, you know, reasonable reason — however, Ebola is very difficult to catch, in general.”

“It’s spread by contact with infected body fluids only,” Sims said. “So you would have to get in contact with, say, the blood of somebody who is infected in order to be exposed to it and potentially catch it…You can’t get it by just breathing air that somebody with Ebola breathes or anything like that.”

With Ebola topping news reports nationwide, healh officials say it’s understandable that people are concerned. But officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say

The CDC says those at highest risk are healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients. People also can become sick with Ebola after coming in contact with infected wildlife.

“We’ve had much more contagious diseases — such as flu, such as SARS, back when there was SARS — and the risk of catching those on the a plane is actually low,” Sims said. “The risk of catching Ebola on a plane is very, very low.”

So far, according the CDC, all cases of human illness or death from Ebola have occurred in Africa (with the exception of several laboratory contamination cases: one in England and two in Russia). On 9/30/2014, the CDC confirmed, the first travel-associated case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the U.S., in Dallas, Texas.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle plant, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding.

Get complete information about prevention, transmission, diagnosis and treatment of Ebola from the CDC at this link.

MORE: Local ‘Preppers’ Stock Up For Improbable U.S. Ebola Crisis

More from Dr. Deanna Lites
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