Midway Airport officials detained a Delta Airlines flight originating in Detroit. The Chicago Tribune reports that the plane remained on the tarmac for three hours, while anxious passengers were looked over by “men with surgical masks.”
Monkeypox or Bedbugs?
One passenger was traveling home from Uganda when she reported receiving bedbug bites. In a conversation with a relative, the passenger mentioned that she had contact with a child who broke out “in pustules.” After the relative contacted a local hospital to receive treatment suggestions, the hospital proceeded to contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC suspected monkeypox, sent crews to board the plane, photograph and identify the rash, and only let passengers off after they were cleared.
Overreaction or Spot-on Response?
As outlined by the CDC, the first report of the viral disease’s jump from animal carrier to human occurred in 1970. It would take until 2003 for the disease to make it to American shores. Infection with monkeypox results in fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a telltale rash that progresses to develop fluid-filled pustules. Eventually these break open and crust over. “In Africa, monkeypox has killed between 1 percent and 10 percent of people who get it,” officials warn. Since the World Health Organization identifies Central and West Africa as primary areas of monkeypox infections, it makes sense that CDC officials would be concerned if a traveler from Uganda — even though the country is located in East Africa — developed a rash.
Reminder of the 2003 Monkeypox Outbreak
The Associated Press reported in 2003 that two pet prairie dogs led to the quarantine of three Wisconsin residents. Officials required the family to remain on their hobby farm until the monkeypox had run its course and scabs had fallen off, thereby eliminating the likelihood of transmission. Beside this family, another 30 cases of monkeypox affected residents in three states. In all cases, the interaction with prairie dogs purchased as pocket pets appeared to have been the cause. A Gambian rat infected these would-be pets with the monkeypox virus.
It is fair to say that local hospitals are on the ball with respect to curtailing the spread of disease from other countries. The rapid CDC response also shows that the communication between local health care providers and federal officials works well. The question remains: Will the CDC do as well with less visible infections? Remember that New Scientist reported on the West Nile Virus arriving in 1999, which has since spread across the United States.