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Five Major U.S. Airports to Screen Travelers for Ebola

Move should handle 94 percent of those arriving from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

THURSDAY, Oct. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Five major U.S. airports will begin screening travelers entering the country from the three West African nations hit hardest by the ongoing Ebola epidemic, federal health officials announced Wednesday.

These five airports receive 94 percent of the roughly 150 travelers who arrive daily in the United States from the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Tom Frieden, M.D., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an afternoon news briefing.

The first airport, JFK International Airport in New York City, will begin the enhanced screening procedures on Saturday. JFK receives nearly half of all travelers from the three countries struggling with Ebola, officials said. The four other airports -- Washington Dulles International, O'Hare International in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, and Newark Liberty International in New Jersey -- will begin their enhanced entry screening programs next week.

"It's not an effort that will be particularly disruptive to large numbers of people," Frieden said. "We think it is manageable." Frieden added that these screening measures make more sense than cutting off travel to the three countries, since such a move would hamper global efforts to end the Ebola outbreak there. Aid workers wouldn't want to travel to West Africa to help if there was a chance they wouldn't be able to return home, he explained. "As long as Ebola continues to spread in Africa, we can't make the risk zero here," Frieden said.

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