Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

New fears about Ebola spread after plane scare

By
July 29, 2014 |

DAKAR, Senegal — No one knows for sure just how many people Patrick Sawyer came into contact with the day he boarded a flight in Liberia, had a stopover in Ghana, changed planes in Togo, and then arrived in Nigeria, where authorities say he died days later from Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases known to man.

Now health workers are scrambling to trace those who may have been exposed to Sawyer across West Africa, including flight attendants and fellow passengers.

Health experts say it is unlikely he could have infected others with the virus that can cause victims to bleed from the eyes, mouth and ears. Still, unsettling questions remain: How could a man whose sister recently died from Ebola manage to board a plane leaving the country? And worse: Could Ebola become the latest disease to be spread by international air travel?

Sawyer’s death on Friday has led to tighter screening of airline passengers in West Africa, where an unprecedented outbreak that emerged in March has killed more than 670 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. But some health authorities expressed little confidence in such precautions.

“The best thing would be if people did not travel when they were sick, but the problem is people won’t say when they’re sick. They will lie in order to travel, so it is doubtful travel recommendations would have a big impact,” said Dr. David Heymann, professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“The important thing is for countries to be prepared when they get patients infected with Ebola, that they are isolated, family members are told what to do and health workers take the right steps.”

The World Health Organization is awaiting laboratory confirmation after Nigerian health authorities said Sawyer tested positive for Ebola, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said. The WHO has not recommended any travel restrictions since the outbreak came to light.

“We would have to consider any travel recommendations very carefully, but the best way to stop this outbreak is to put the necessary measures in place at the source of infection,” Hartl said. Closing borders “might help, but it won’t be exhaustive or foolproof.”

The risk of travelers contracting Ebola is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva, experts say. Ebola can’t be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.

Patients are contagious only once the disease has progressed to the point they show symptoms, according to the WHO. And the most vulnerable are health care workers and relatives who come in much closer contact with the sick.

Still, witnesses say Sawyer, a 40-year-old Finance Ministry employee en route to a conference in Nigeria, was vomiting and had diarrhea aboard at least one of his flights with some 50 other passengers aboard. Ebola can be contracted from traces of feces or vomit, experts say.

Sawyer was immediately quarantined upon arrival in Lagos — a city of 21 million people — and Nigerian authorities say his fellow travelers were advised of Ebola’s symptoms and then were allowed to leave. The incubation period can be as long as 21 days, meaning anyone infected may not fall ill for several weeks.

Health officials rely on “contact tracing” — locating anyone who may have been exposed, and then anyone who may have come into contact with that person. That may prove impossible, given that other passengers journeyed on to dozens of other cities.

International travel has made the spread of disease via airplanes almost routine. Outbreaks of measles, polio and cholera have been traced back to countries thousands of miles away. Even Ebola previously traveled the globe this way: During an outbreak in Ivory Coast in the 1990s, the virus infected a veterinarian who traveled to Switzerland, where the disease was snuffed out upon arrival and she ultimately survived, experts say.

Two American aid workers in Liberia have tested positive for the virus and are being treated there. U.S. health officials said Monday that the risk of the deadly germ spreading to the United States is remote.

The mere prospect of Ebola in Africa’s most populous nation has Nigerians on edge.

In Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Alex Akinwale, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, said he is particularly concerned about taking the bus, which is the only affordable way to travel.

“It’s actually making me very nervous. If I had my own car, I would be safer,” he said. “The doctors are on strike, and that means they are not prepared for it. For now I’m trying to be very careful.”

It’s an unprecedented public health scenario: Since 1976, when the virus was first discovered, Ebola outbreaks were limited to remote corners of Congo and Uganda, far from urban centers, and stayed within the borders of a single country. This time, cases first emerged in Guinea, and before long hundreds of others were stricken in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Those are some of the poorest countries in the world, with few doctors and nurses to treat sick patients let alone determine who is well enough to travel. In Sawyer’s case, it appears nothing was done to question him until he fell sick on his second flight with Asky Airlines. An airline spokesman would not comment on what precautions were being taken in the aftermath of Sawyer’s journey.

Liberian Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah told The Associated Press last week that there had been no screening at Liberia’s Monrovia airport. That changed quickly over the weekend, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said a new policy on inspecting and testing all outgoing and incoming passengers will be strictly observed. She also announced that some borders were being closed and communities with large numbers of Ebola cases would be quarantined.

International travelers departing from the capitals of Sierra Leone and Guinea are also being checked for signs of fever, airport officials said. Buckets of chlorine are also on hand at Sierra Leone’s airport in Freetown for disinfection, authorities said.

Still, detecting Ebola in departing passengers might be tricky, since its initial symptoms are similar to many other diseases, including malaria and typhoid fever.

“It will be very difficult now to contain this outbreak because it’s spread,” Heymann said. “The chance to stop it quickly was months ago before it crossed borders … but this can still be stopped if there is good hospital infection control, contact tracing and collaboration between countries.”

Nigerian authorities so far have identified 59 people who came into contact with Sawyer and have tested 20, said Lagos State Health Commissioner Jide Idris. Among them were officials from ECOWAS, a West African governing body, airline employees, health workers and the Nigerian ambassador to Liberia, he said. He said there have been no new cases of the disease.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JimboJuly 29, 2014 - 7:23 pm

    But I am different, those rules are for other people. It could never happen to me. Yeah my sis died from ebola and I was in close contact with her body for the customary funeral. But I am different and am getting on whatever plane I want. If anything goes wrong then I am a victim. Don't pull any of that 'personal responsibility' or 'humanity' crap with me.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 7 Comments

 
Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New focus on achievement gap of black males

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 14 Comments | Gallery

 
Sandbags available in advance of storms

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Governments shut doors for holiday

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A3

Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Union focuses on security guards at Apple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Sports

Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Obituaries

Dora Maria Aranda

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Adrian Looy

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

How to give holiday gift cards

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

How to establish gift spending limits

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

How to save on high-tech gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

Great gifts for music lovers

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Great gifts for the family foodie

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Holiday shows abound in Solano County

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

Great gifts for people who love to read

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

2014 holiday toy predictions

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Things to consider before buying this holiday season

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

Gifts to keep kids engaged

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

Gift wrap tricks to save time

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

Gift exchange dos and don’ts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30