Federal officials said Thursday the US will screen passengers for Ebola at five designated airports if they have traveled to Uganda within three weeks of arrival.
Uganda, a country in East Africa, is battling a deadly Ebola outbreak with 63 confirmed and probable cases, including 29 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not a single case of Ebola has been reported in the United States.
The CDC is working closely with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the WHO to respond to the outbreak, US health officials said.
The US Embassy in Uganda said on Thursday that passengers who have been in the East African country within 21 days of arriving in the US will be routed to one of five airports: New York, New York, Newark, Atlanta, Chicago. “Hare or Washington Dulles.
Passengers arriving from Uganda at these airports will be subject to temperature checks and verification of their contact details, a federal health official said. Airlines will send passenger information to the CDC so the agency can monitor their health, the official said. Contact information will also be sent to state health departments so that they can conduct follow-up checks on the spot.
Medical examinations are based on the incubation period of Ebola. According to the CDC, people infected with the virus are not contagious until symptoms appear, which can take two to 21 days after infection. On average, it takes 8 to 10 days for symptoms to appear.
Uganda is fighting an outbreak caused by a strain of Ebola called the Sudanese ebolavirus. According to the CDC, it is spread by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who has contracted or died from the virus, as well as infected animals and contaminated objects. The health agency has said that Ebola is not airborne.
Symptoms include unexplained bleeding, bleeding or bruising, fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, as well as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other symptoms include redness of the eyes, skin rash, and hiccups.
There is no FDA-licensed vaccine to protect against the Sudanese strain of ebolavirus. The FDA has approved a vaccine for the Zairian ebolavirus based on animal studies, but it is not expected to protect against the Sudanese strain, according to the CDC. There is also no FDA-approved treatment for Sudanese ebolavirus.
The CDC said in a health alert Thursday that healthcare providers should be on the lookout for any patients with suspected Ebola. Physicians and other clinicians should obtain a detailed travel history of any suspected patients, especially those who have traveled to areas of Uganda where the outbreak occurred.
The virus has been confirmed in Mubende, Kasanda and Kyegegwa districts in Uganda.