Study shows exit screening vital to halting global Ebola spread

Paris airport doctor Philippe Bargain (R) demonstrates on a plain cloth policeman how airport medical staff will check the body temperature of a passenger arriving from Ebola infected zones during a press visit at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris October 17, 2014. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

(Reuters) – Three Ebola-infected travelers a month would be expected to get on international flights from the West African countries suffering epidemics of the deadly virus if there were no effective exit screening, scientists said on Tuesday.

The three countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, do all check departing air passengers for fever, although the test cannot spot sufferers in the period before they show symptoms, which can be up to 21 days.

The researchers, whose work was published in The Lancet medical journal on Tuesday, said exit screening was nevertheless one of the most effective ways of limiting Ebola’s spread.

Using modeling based on 2014 global flight schedules and 2013 passenger itineraries, as well as current epidemic conditions and flight restrictions, the analysis showed that, on average, just under three (2.8) Ebola-infected travelers are projected to travel on an international flight every month.

Dr Kamran Khan of St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, who led the research, said the study showed it was far more effective and less disruptive to screen travelers from the affected countries in West Africa as they leave, rather than when they land, as the United States, Britain, France and some other countries have begun to do…

But who is going to enforce exit screening in corrupt Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea? No one.