Ebola 2014: No risk at Portland airport around child illness

October 16, 2014

Members of the Oregon Association for Liberia sell t-shirts to raise money for Medical Teams International.
Members of the Oregon Association for Liberia sell t-shirts to raise money for Medical Teams International at a community event.

A Portland child who was evaluated after vomiting on an incoming flight on Wednesday, Oct. 15, is at no risk of having Ebola. Health officials say there is also no risk to other passengers. It is likely something the child ate that was behind the vomiting, which was evaluated in Atlanta and again in Portland.

As a precaution, the child, who had travelled from Lagos, Nigeria, was evaluated by emergency medical personnel in Atlanta early Wednesday and cleared for the Atlanta to Portland flight.

When Delta Flight 773 landed in Portland about 11:30 a.m. Multnomah County Emergency Services Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Jui met the family. He interviewed and re-evaluated the child at Portland International Airport. The child was cleared to go home.

Passengers were notified there was no cause for concern and a handful who wanted additional information were provided materials, Dr. Jui said.

Because of concerns around illness among passengers from overseas, international flights, Delta Airlines in-flight medical personnel conferred with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specialists based in Seattle during the Atlanta to Portland leg.

Officials confirmed the child and family had only traveled to Nigeria. According to the CDC, Nigeria is not considered a country at risk for Ebola. Nigeria had a case in late July, but spread of the disease was quickly controlled. All people who had come in contact with Ebola patients in Nigeria have completed their 21-day monitoring period and are no longer at risk.

In addition, Dr. Jui said the family had no other contacts of concern.

“The Health Department and the Port of Portland have a plan for managing communicable diseases on commercial flights and this went according to plan,’’ said Dr. Paul Lewis, Tri-County Health Officer.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with body fluids of a sick person or the remains of someone who has died of Ebola, or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it could be from two  to 21 days), and therefore the CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious before symptoms such as fever develop.

For more information:healthoregon.org/ebola

Read Frequently Asked Questions about Ebola.