DC Metro to passengers: Report blood, vomit

DC Metro to passengers: Report blood, vomit
© file photo

The Washington Metro transit system is reminding passengers to report blood and vomit they see on buses and trains amid concerns about a potential Ebola outbreak in the U.S. 

“Any customer who finds blood, vomit or other bodily fluids on a Metro vehicle or in a Metro facility should immediately contact the station manager or bus or rail operator,” Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manger Richard Sarles said in a full-page ad in The Washington Post Express newspaper Thursday.

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“Buses will be removed from service and the rail car will be isolated until it can be returned to the yard. Maintenance staff will be dispatched promptly to clean up waste materials and disinfect the area,” he continued.

Sarles cited worries over the deadly Ebola virus.

“In recent weeks, as the nation has become increasingly concerned about the transmission of Ebola, I brought together Metro's top leaders to review the protocols for preventing the spread of infections and handling public health hazards,” he said.

“Given the fact that we are entering flu season, this was an important reminder of the steps we take,” Sarles continued. “Our maintenance department routinely cleans Metro's rail cars, buses, stations and other facilities, and during the winter months when the flu is a greater threat, we increase the cleanings to once a week."

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Sarles said Metro employees are trained to handle bodily fluids that are found on buses and trains, but he urged passengers to also be vigilant. 

“Metro employees are trained to safely handle incidents involving blood or other potentially infectious materials and all of our procedures are in full compliance with federal standards,” he wrote. 

The reminder to transit riders in the nation’s capital comes amid intensifying debate over banning travel between the U.S. and West Africa and mandatory quarantines on those who have recently returned from the region. 

Fears about the possibility of Ebola spreading on public transportation mounted when a doctor who was diagnosed with the disease shortly after returning to the U.S. from West Africa took trips on the New York City subway system.

Officials in New York moved quickly to reassure passengers that it is still safe to ride the subway system, which is the busiest transit network in the U.S. 

Obama administration officials have meanwhile resisted calls from Republicans for a complete Ebola travel ban, citing health officials who say cutting off flights between the U.S. and West Africa would complicate relief efforts in the Ebola-stricken region. 

The administration is only requiring that passengers who are traveling from West Africa to the U.S. be rerouted to one of  five airports that are conducting enhanced screening for Ebola symptoms. 

The airports that have been set up for Ebola screening are New York’s John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare, Washington Dulles and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.