On the heels of the worst outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in nearly 40 years, fears of the potential spread of the deadly virus through air travel have led to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidelines on how to deal with Ebola in the air.
The Ebola Virus and its corresponding disease are spread through direct contact with blood or contaminated bodily fluids. Direct contact can include emission of droplets into the air by coughing, sneezing, or even talking.
As a result, the cramped confined spaces of an airliner’s cabin can become a breeding ground for the virus.
Symptoms of Ebola
The CDC advises that airlines prohibit those who have possibly been exposed to Ebola Virus Disease to be kept from boarding and monitored for the virus’ 21-day incubation period. However, if you believe you or someone on the plane has been exposed to Ebola, here’s how the CDC describes the symptoms:
The incubation period, from exposure to when signs or symptoms appear, for Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days (most commonly 8-10 days). Early symptoms include sudden fever, chills, and muscle aches. Around the fifth day, a skin rash can occur. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea may follow.
More advanced and severe symptoms of Ebola may include jaundice (yellow skin), severe weight loss, mental confusion, bleeding inside and outside the body, shock, and multi-organ failure.
Sick on a Plane
If you or another passenger falls ill during a flight, inform the cabin crew. The CDC recommends a set of procedures for them to follow:
- Separating the sick passenger from the rest of the occupants as much as possible.
- Providing the sick passenger with a surgical mask, if possible, to reduce the emission of bodily fluids into the air.
- Wear impermeable disposable gloves when potentially coming in contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
- Properly dispose of any tissues or medical instruments used to the treat the passenger, using a designated plastic bag.
In addition to the traditional first aid kit commonly found on a plane, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) of the United Nations recommends that airlines travels to parts of the world affected by Ebola to carry an additional Universal Precaution Kit. It includes germicide disinfectant, sterile liquid absorbing granules, eye/face masks, gloves, skin wipes, and a protective apron.
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