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US Will Screen Travelers from Uganda for Ebola

No cases have currently been detected in the US

Anyone who has been to Uganda in the last 21 days will now be screened for Ebola at one of five major airports upon their arrival in America. 

The policy change comes as the African nation continues to report new cases of the virus as part of the current outbreak which was announced on Sept. 20. As of Oct. 3, the nation’s Health Ministry had reported 43 cases of ebola – nine of which had resulted in death.

As of Oct. 6, US-bound passengers who have been in Uganda in the last three weeks will be routed to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Washington Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for an Ebola screening.

“To date in this outbreak, cases have only been confirmed in Uganda and no suspected, probable, or confirmed cases of Ebola have been reported in the United States, and the risk of Ebola domestically is currently low,” the U.S. Embassy in Uganda said in an announcement. “The enhanced screening applies to all passengers, including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and visa holders (to include Diplomatic and Official visas).”

The screening will be conducted by American health officials who will check passengers’ temperature and ask health-related questions. The arrivals will be reported to local health departments. There are no vaccines for the Sudan strain of Ebola currently spreading in Uganda. 

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly viral illness that is reportable to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) in all U.S. states and territories,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC says exposure risk factors include “contact with blood or body fluids (including contaminated objects) of acutely ill or dead persons with suspected or confirmed EVD … without wearing appropriate PPE,” “participation in funeral rituals” such as “preparation of bodies for burial or touching a corpse at a traditional burial ceremony without wearing appropriate PPE,” and “contact with semen from a man who has recovered from EVD.”

In February of 2021, then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced an Ebola outbreak had been recorded in Central and West Africa. 

We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively, and with commensurate resources to stop these outbreaks before they become largescale epidemics,” Psaki warned. “Since the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the United States has endeavored to elevate and prioritize health security assistance with partners through the Global Health Security Agenda and with strong support from Congress.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which shares a heavily trafficked border with Uganda, also recorded a case of Ebola virus less than two months after its previous outbreak had been declared over. 

Ebola, which is naturally found in bats, has killed approximately 15,000 in Africa since it was first detected in what is now the DRC in 1976. 

“The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone,” reports the Manila Standard. “The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.”

The virus has an incubation period of 21 days. An infected person becomes contagious after the onset of symptoms, which include fever, severe headache, muscle aches, joint pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting, and unexplained hemorrhaging, bleeding or bruising.

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