December 12, 2017
Friday, October 10, 2014

Global Ebola fears spread after false alarm in Vegas

Hygienists wearing protective suits disinfect the toilets of the Ebola treatment centre in Lokolia, on October 5, 2014. (AFP)

A commercial plane was briefly quarantined on a Las Vegas airport tarmac today, sending airline shares down as worldwide fears increased that Ebola could spread outside West Africa, where it has killed more than 4,000 people.

Airline and hospital officials said a Delta Air Lines plane was held at McCarran International Airport, but it turned out to be a false alarm and an all-clear was issued. A Delta spokesman said the concerns arose after a passenger on the flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport reported feeling unwell.

It was the second reported Ebola scare involving an aircraft this week. On Wednesday, a passenger on board a US Airways flight from Philadelphia said he had Ebola.

Officials in the Dominican Republic investigated and cleared the aircraft, the airline said. Video from a passenger showed officials in blue-colored protective suits boarding the plane after landing and escorting a man off.

These and a rash of incidents in countries from Macedonia to the Czech Republic to Brazil worry doctors and emergency medical professionals about available resources.

"If this really becomes a widespread Ebola panic, and EMS crews are getting 50 Ebola false alarms a day, the system will become seriously overextended, " said Dr. Peter Taillac, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. "The response will be worse than the reality."

The death this week of the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the hospitalization in Spain of a nurse who was the first to contract the virus outside West Africa have changed the perception of Ebola to a global threat from what had been seen as a problem for poor West African countries.

Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew on commercial planes from his home country to Dallas in late September, died of Ebola on Wednesday morning. His body has been cremated, Texas health officials said.

Growing awareness of the disease and accompanying fears have led to several people being tested as a precaution.

Doctors in Macedonia have "serious indications" that alcohol, not Ebola, may have killed a British man visiting the Balkan country, a senior health official said.

Brazil's health minister said doctors were testing a man who arrived Sept. 19 from Guinea but he was "in good shape" and his slight fever has subsided. Tests showed a hospitalized Czech man, who had recently travelled to Liberia, does not have Ebola, officials said.

Seven more people in Spain were admitted to the hospital where the nurse, Teresa Romero, lay seriously ill. Romero contracted the virus from a priest who was repatriated from West Africa and died. A hospital spokeswoman said 14 people were now under observation or being treated, including Romero's husband.

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Tags:  World  Ebola  US  Las Vegas  Liberia. Brazil  Dominican Republic  

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