As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa spreads, airlines around the globe are closely monitoring the situation but have yet to make any drastic changes. Below are some key questions about the disease, what airlines are doing and how safe it is to fly:
Q: Why are airlines concerned?
A: Airlines quickly take passengers from one part of the globe to another. With some germs, one sick passenger on a plane could theoretically infect hundreds of people who are connecting to flights to dozens of other countries. Health and airline officials note, however, that Ebola only spreads through direct contact. Outbreaks of diseases that can spread through the air, such as the flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, are more problematic for airlines.
Q: Should people travel to West Africa?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued a warning for Americans to avoid nonessential travel to the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Q: Is Ebola deadly?
A: Very much so. If contracted, there is no vaccine and no specific treatment. The World Health Organization estimated Monday that there have been 887 deaths from the current Ebola outbreak. That translates to a fatality rate of about 60 percent.
Q: How is Ebola transmitted?
A: The virus only spreads through direct contact with the blood or fluids of an infected person, according to the CDC. It can also be spread through objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected fluids. No airborne transmission has been documented.
Q: Do U.S. airlines fly to West Africa?
A: Delta Air Lines flies to Dakar, Senegal; Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria. The airline also flies to Monrovia, Liberia, but for unrelated business reasons previously announced it will cancel that service at the end of September. Delta is letting passengers with flights to the region in the next two weeks push back travel until the end of the month. United Airlines also flies to Lagos, but has not issued any travel waiver. American Airlines does not fly to Africa.
Q: What are U.S. airlines saying about it?