Advanced screening for the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 4,000 globally, but most precisely in the western parts of Africa, began Saturday at major U.S. airports. The goal to better identify those who are showing symptoms of the virus, and get ahead of it – preventing the spread of the disease into the continental U.S.
Public health workers utilized no-touch thermometers to take temperature readings from individuals leaving planes that had come from areas that are considered to be Ebola hotspots. The three countries that were hit hardest by the virus, thus far, have been Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Next week the remaining four U.S. airports that were due to begin this advanced screening will begin their work to try and combat the deadly virus before it enter the United States. The advanced screening comes on the heels of the Ebola virus claiming its first victim diagnosed in the United States, last week – after Thomas Duncan was treated for the disease after re-entering the country.
However, his treatment at the Dallas facility revealed significant gaps in the United States ability to medically combat the disease, as only select facilities in the U.S. are technically able to feasibly fight the virus that has no known cure at this time.
Currently, the government, and the other organizations are scrambling to begin testing a potential vaccine that could eventually be released to more individuals, especially those in the hardest hit regions as early as January of 2015.
Right now though the U.S. government is leaving nothing to chance, and are taking as many precautions as is possible to prevent the potential unnecessary spread of the disease as the regions hardest hit – like West Africa – become less, and less equipped to fight the virus. Many have begun leaving the country to seek refuge from the ill-equipped region to fight the dangerous and deadly disease.
These advanced screenings will be taking place as a joint effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection – as this has become a matter of national security.
President Obama called the new measures for advanced screening are “really just belt and suspenders” to the plans already in place.