Ebola screenings at Atlanta’s airport of 27 passengers, none test positive

By David Pendered

Ebola tests have been conducted on 27 passengers at Atlanta’s airport and none tested positive for the disease, according to the latest available federal report.

Airport screeners take the temperature of airline passengers as part of the screening for Ebola. Credit: AP via nypost.com

Airport screeners take the temperature of airline passengers as part of the screening for Ebola. Credit: AP via nypost.com

The 27 who were tested in Atlanta were among a total of 521 passengers tested as they traveled through one of the five U.S. airports that have implemented enhanced screening for Ebola. The report covers from Oct. 11 to Oct. 20.

Among the five airports, only one – Washington Dulles – identified passengers who were transported to a medical facility for further screening, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Four passengers were transported from Dulles. Results of further testing were not included in the report by dhs.gov. No cases of Ebola have been reported in Washington, according to published reports.

Since the report was issued, three airline passengers have been taken to hospitals for further screening, according to media reports. These reported cases have yet to appear in a report on dhs.gov.

Evidently, four passengers screened in Atlanta had not been flagged by the airlines.

The four were tested because their travel documents had been flagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Officers interview passengers about their recent travel and inspect their travel documents, including customs declarations forms and passport stamps, according to dhs.gov.

More than 500 airline passengers were tested for Ebola at five U.S. airports in mid October, including 27 passengers at Atlanta's airport. None tested positive, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Click on the image for a larger view. Credit: dhs.gov

More than 500 airline passengers were tested for Ebola at five U.S. airports in mid October, including 27 passengers at Atlanta’s airport. None tested positive, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Click on the image for a larger view. Credit: dhs.gov

The other 23 passengers were tested in Atlanta because airlines had related their travel information to customs officers.

Three passengers provided positive responses on questionnaires, which include whether the person has come into contact with a person exhibiting symptoms of Ebola, according to dhs.gov. Protocol requires that these passengers be referred to representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further evaluation.

The CDC conducted its own temperature assessment of one passenger. Evidently, the CDC determined no further review was warranted because none of the passengers were transported to a medical facility, according to the report.

The remaining 24 passengers provided negative responses on the questionnaires.

All 27 passengers had their temperatures taken. All 27 were within the normal range, according to dhs.gov.

Results of the enhanced screening at the nation’s airports cover the period when the federal government was beginning to implement security measures intended to diagnose passengers who have the disease before they leave an airport.

Passengers flying from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are directed to arrive in the U.S. at a designated airport with enhanced screening capacity and ability to resources to manage a suspected case.

The airports are John F. Kennedy, Newark, Dulles, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

During the days covered by the report, Hartsfield handled 5 percent of the nation’s passenger traffic that was subjected to enhanced screening techniques.

Border officials are to follow a protocol when evaluating passengers who’ve traveled from one of the Ebola-affected countries.

According to the protocol:

  • “When a traveler is identified with a possible communicable disease, or identified from information that is received from the CDC, CBP personnel will take the appropriate safety measures by donning personal protective equipment (PPE), to include gloves and surgical masks, which are readily available for use in the course of their duties.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.