Here is an article I wrote about screening for Ebola at my job…
“JFK Drops the Ball”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs Boarder Protection (CBP) have begun screening at five U.S. airports including JFK airport. In terminal four, passengers are not being screened until they reach the secondary arrivals area after mixing with passengers arriving from all other fights. “If all the passengers mix, why even screen for Ebola,” said JFK Terminal Four arrivals agent, Webster Brown, 25.
According to the CDC, Customs Boarder Police will be responsible for observing travelers coming into the JFK exhibiting general signs of illnesses to try and lower the risk of spreading Ebola with the help of CDC employees. “The risk is pretty high, I would say about 20,000 passengers arrive in terminal four daily from countries all over the world,” said Customs Border Police Officer, Arthur William Brown, 57. Throughout the arrivals in Terminal Four, the CDC and CBP have been working together pulling passengers aside that are exhibiting any Ebola-like symptoms.
All passengers exhibiting symptoms of the disease are pulled from the primary arrivals queuing into a secondary screening area just before the baggage claim area. “All the gates empty into halls leading to immigration on each side of the terminal, after making their way to immigration all the passengers from the flights form one line to wait to be processed by an officer for entry,” said Customs Border Police Officer, Mike Grazianno, 42. The decision to isolate and screen a passenger isn’t made until after the passengers have mixed together waiting for what may sometimes be extended periods of time.
Passengers selected for screening are escorted by CBP to this secondary room where trained CBP staff will observe their symptoms, and ask them a series of health and exposure questions. According to the CDC, medical staff will then take their temperature and if the travelers have fever, symptoms or the health questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, they will be evaluated by a CDC representative. The public health officer will then 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, or a known history of exposure will receive health information for self-monitoring.
“Even with such thorough screening, the risk is still high because the passengers coming from Africa are not being isolated from the rest of the arriving passengers. If one person does have Ebola, you have just potentially infected every passenger in that arrival” said Long Island Jewish Nurse Practitioner, Danielle Sainte-Marc, 39. All people exposed to the Ebola virus may not exhibit symptoms right away. According to the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses, the incubation period of Ebola can last up to 21 days meaning an infected individual may not show symptoms until after three weeks.