Ebola Watch in Chicago


Two passengers which landed in Chicago are under medical watch after “falling ill” during their plane ride from West Africa. The passengers landed at O’Hare International Airport from Liberia on Tuesday and are now under observation as a response to their reports of “nausea and other illnesses” experienced during travel.

Currently, it has been decided that Ebola screenings will not be the first step as a response to the recorded illnesses experience by the passengers. Four Chicago hospitals have been appointed to take Ebola patients: The University of Chicago Medical Center, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Rush University Medical Center.

The passengers flew separately, one child and the other passenger an adult. The child vomited at least once during the flight and was screened by authorities upon landing, yielding no additional symptoms. He was taken to Lurie for further testing while his family remained under quarantine, by city protocol. The adult traveling from Liberia has reported nausea and diarrhea, and also indicated to officials that he suffered typhoid fever in August. He has been taken to Rush for evaluation. The Chicago Department of Public Health states that there is no public health risk, and that they are simply acting out of an “abundance of caution.”

The news of this Ebola watch in Chicago comes after reports Tuesday confirmed that patients flying into the United States from West Africa will only be allowed to travel to five major cities: Hartsfield-Jackson International Atlanta, Washington Dulles Washington D.C., Newark Liberty, Kennedy New York, and O’Hare International Chicago. The airports will provide screenings for Ebola, testing people from the region in Africa most effected by the deadly disease as a precaution to curb spreading, according to Jeh C. Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary.

Both city and United States officials have urged people to practice calm and caution in order to best help combat the spread of both the virus and misinformation. Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the chances of an individual being diagnosed with Ebola in Chicago “extremely unlikely,” but has worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health to put together an action plan involving taking blood samples, isolating, and transporting potential Ebola patients to one of the four designated hospitals.

Independently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made updates to policies and guidelines to ensure the safety of people appointed to help in possible Ebola cases. The CDC has advised that workers not to have exposed skin while treating Ebola patients, and they have also called for training of staff on how to properly take on and take off protective equipment as well as infection control.

Over 94 percent of the people traveling from West African countries Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone had already been flying to the five major airports listed for handling potential cases of Ebola. The Department of Homeland Security counted 562 travelers to the five airports with no reported cases of Ebola-like symptoms until the two reported in Chicago. Some members of Congress have been looking to impose a travel ban in order to secure the health of Americans, but the proposed ban did not receive overwhelming support. Chicago will remain under watch for Ebola as more information surfaces.

By LaBaron Jackson


Chicago Tribune
New York Times
ABC 7 Chicago

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