The outbreak of Ebola, a viral hemorrhagic fever that has claimed approximately 1,000 lives in West Africa since March, is of great concern to Flight Attendants as safety professionals. Given the potential for the spread of Ebola to other continents through air travel, health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are providing ongoing updates and issuing guidance to various stakeholders. Links to up-to-date information for our profession are posted on the AFA Air Safety, Health & Security website.
A WHO Emergency Committee has determined that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and that “a coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola.”
Efforts to contain the Ebola virus include a declaration by WHO urging affected states to screen all passengers departing from international airports and to prevent persons suspected of having the virus from departing. No travel ban has been issued at this time.
Persons infected with the Ebola virus may exhibit symptoms such as profuse sweating, difficulty breathing, visible rash and persistent coughing. If you observe these symptoms, follow reporting procedures as outlined by your airline. You may also consult the CDC Ebola Guidance for Airlines.
All bodily fluid should be treated as if it is known to be contagious. If you believe you have been exposed to a virus or infectious disease, follow notification instructions as provided by your airline.
Following any incident, and after trash pickup, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that Flight Attendants follow standard hygiene practices; frequent hand washing including the wrists, avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth and if you have cuts or sores on your skin, they should be covered with a bandage to control the spread of infection (even when gloves are used during an emergency.)
The AFA Air Safety, Health and Security Department will continue to monitor the situation and will keep your AFA MEC Safety Committee informed.