Airport: No Ebola risk to fellow passengers

Airport: No Ebola risk to fellow passengers

The agency that operates Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport is working to reassure passengers who may have come in contact with the first person to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the U.S. that they are not at risk of catching the deadly disease.

Officials have confirmed the Ebola-stricken passenger, Thomas Eric Duncan, changed planes at Dulles Airport during a trip from Liberia to Dallas on Sept. 20.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) said after the announcement that passengers who were in the airport at the same time as Duncan are not at risk of catching Ebola because he was not displaying commonly accepted signs of being contagious on the day of his travel.

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"The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement saying that 'the ill person did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa and CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring, as Ebola is contagious only if the person is experiencing active symptoms," the authority said in a statement.

U.S. officials initially sought to keep the identity and travel details of the Texas Ebola patient under wraps to prevent panic as news spread of the first domestic diagnosis of the disease, which had traditionally been associated only with African countries.

However, Duncan's identity was confirmed by relatives and his flight details were released Wednesday by United Airlines.  

The company said Duncan flew on its Flight 951 from Brussels to Dulles airport and then connected to its Flight 822 to Dallas.

United said Wednesday it agreed with the CDC and Dulles airport's declarations that fellow passengers are not at risk of developing Ebola.

"The director of the CDC has stated there is 'zero risk of transmission' on any flight on which the patient flew because he was not symptomatic until several days after his trip and could not have been contagious on the dates he traveled," the company said in a statement. 

"While the CDC states it is unnecessary for it or the airline to contact others who were on the patient’s flights, United is providing information about the flights United believes the patient took, based on information provided by the CDC," the statement continued. "We are ensuring our employees have this information and suggest that any customers who have concerns contact the experts at the CDC for further information."