The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told airlines and their staff to treat all body fluids as infectious and possibly contaminated with Ebola.
The “airline gudiance” update follows the federal agency’s prediction the disease may infect more than 500,000 people by the beginning of next year.
The United States last week initiated a $750 million effort to establish treatment facilities in Liberia and the United Nations has voted unanimously to create an emergency medical mission in response to the outbreak in Africa. On September 16, Obama announced a military response by promising to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Monrovia, Liberia.
From the Interim Guidance about Ebola Infection for Airline Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel, released by the agency on September 19:
Purpose: To give information to airlines on stopping ill travelers from boarding, managing and reporting onboard sick travelers, protecting crew and passengers from infection, and cleaning the plane and disinfecting contaminated areas.
— A U.S. Department of Transportation rule permits airlines to deny boarding to air travelers with serious contagious diseases that could spread during flight, including travelers with possible Ebola symptoms. This rule applies to all flights of U.S. airlines, and to direct flights (no change of planes) to or from the United States by foreign airlines.
— Cabin crew should follow routine infection control precautions for onboard sick travelers. If in-flight cleaning is needed, cabin crew should follow routine airline procedures using personal protective equipment available in the Universal Precautions Kit. If a traveler is confirmed to have had infectious Ebola on a flight, CDC will conduct an investigation to assess risk and inform passengers and crew of possible exposure.
— Hand hygiene and other routine infection control measures should be followed.
— Treat all body fluids as though they are infectious.