Traveling during Fall Break with Ebola Restrictions



Locator map of the five U.S. airports screening for Ebola. MCT 2014

Lane Stafford

During fall break, many students will fly away from Tuscaloosa while some states are taking precautions against the Ebola virus.

“At this time, there are no confirmed cases of patients with Ebola in Alabama while the likelihood of an outbreak occurring is very low, the Alabama Department of Public Health is working with other partners and is taking several steps to ensure that if a case occurs in our state we will be prepared to respond,” State Health Officer Donald Williamson said.

According to the CDC, only four cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the United States this year. The most infected country is Liberia with 4,665 cases.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood or mucus. This makes it much harder to contract than airborne viruses. However, many national airports are still taking precautions. Kennedy International, Washington Dulles International, O’Hare International, Hartsfield-Jackson International and Newark Liberty International are screening all travelers from West Africa and isolating passengers who exhibit symptoms.

Kaitlyn Smith, a sophomore majoring in business, said she will be flying home this fall break to Houston, Texas, using Southwest Airlines.

“I don’t feel at that high of a risk for catching the disease. I trust that Southwest will be handling the situation correctly and they will make sure that the cabin is clean and will prevent an outbreak,” Smith said.

The state of Alabama is not only taking precautions in the transportation department but also in hospitals and health centers.

DCH Regional Medical Center said they are fully prepared to handle a patient with Ebola. According to the DCH website, they have “identified the rooms where a suspected Ebola patient will be treated if he or she is admitted to the hospital. They can support the highest level of care, and they can serve as isolation rooms. We have also determined how linens and disposable items will be 
dealt with.”

Even though Alabama is prepared to handle an outbreak, it is still important students make healthy decisions during their travels like washing their hands regularly, avoiding contact with bodily fluids, and choosing cleaner rest stops if traveling on 
the highway.

Ebola has many similar symptoms to the flu. If students exhibit any symptoms it is suggested they seek medical attention right away.