Ebola scare on Newark flight as CDC holds passengers on plane

IMG_1430[1].JPGNJ.com – by Steve Strunsky, Jan. 19, 2015

NEWARK — Officials from the Centers for Disease Control today were sent to check for signs of Ebola in a woman who vomited on a flight to Newark Liberty International Airport after she had been in Sierra Leone, officials said.

The woman, a health care worker returning from the West African nation still battling an Ebola epidemic, was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center,  said a spokeswoman for Bergen County Executive James Tedesco.  

“Proper protocols are being followed and members of the public have no need to be alarmed,” said the spokeswoman, Alicia D’Alessandro.

D’Alessandro would not say whether the woman was suspected of having contracted the virus. She said the county office of emergency management had been contacted by the State Police and the Department of Health.

Officials said woman became ill while on board United Airlines Flight 45 from Brussels, which arrived at Newark’s Terminal C at 2:03 p.m., with 248 passengers and 14 crew aboard. CDC staffers were sent to board the flight to interview the woman before she or other passengers were allowed to leave the plane, officials said.

A statement released by United shortly after the plane landed did not specify whether the woman was thought to have the virus.

“After arriving at Newark Airport from Brussels, medical personnel met a United flight to assist an ill passenger on board. Passengers and crew will stay on the plane until the medical personnel clear the aircraft,” the airline stated.

The CDC, local and state health officials, and the hospital did not return calls.

Newark Liberty is one of five airports nationwide that were designated in October as U.S. points of entry for all passengers originating in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, the West African nations hard hit by Ebola outbreaks last year. The other are John F. Kennedy International, Washington-Dulles, Atlanta-Hartsfield and Chicago-O’Hare.

Newark has been the site of several Ebola scares since the outbreak riveted the nation last fall, including one involving a 33-year-old nurse, Kaci Hickox, who was quarantined at University Hospital after she had volunteered to treat patients with the virus in Sierra Leone. Hickox was sent home to Maine after remaining symptom-free for 24 hours.

A passenger treated that people in hazmat suits boarded the aircraft, according to a report by nbcnewyork.com.

NJ Advance Media Staff Writers Kathleen O’Brien and S.P. Sullivan contributed to this report.


2 thoughts on “Ebola scare on Newark flight as CDC holds passengers on plane

  1. “Officials said woman became ill while on board United Airlines Flight 45 from Brussels,…”

    Airline food.

    That’ll teach her.

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