Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

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Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows protective gear including boots, gloves, masks and suits, drying after being used in a treatment room in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Christian charity Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer. To date, there have been 635 cases of haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, most confirmed as Ebola. A total of 399 people have died, 280 of them in Guinea. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Health workers wearing protective suits walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry on April 14, 2014. Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Fall said on April 14 that the west African country had brought the spread of the deadly Ebola virus under control after more than 100 people have died. The outbreak is one of the most deadly, with 168 cases 'clinically compatible' with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on April 14. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Guinean Red Cross speak with a resident during an awareness campaign on the Ebola virus on April 11, 2014 in Conakry. Guinea has been hit by the most severe strain of the virus, known as Zaire Ebola, which has had a fatality rate of up to 90 percent in past outbreaks, and for which there is no vaccine, cure or even specific treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described west Africa's first outbreak among humans as one of the most challenging since the virus emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
A woman prepares food at a 'maquis,' a small African restaurant, in Kobakro, outside Abidjan, which now serves various types of meat instead of bushmeat, on April 8, 2014. The Ministry of Health has asked Ivorians, 'particularly fond of porcupine and agouti,' a small rodent, to avoid consuming or handling bushmeat, as an unprecedented Ebola epidemic hit West Africa, claiming more than 90 lives. The virus can spread to animal primates and humans who handle infected meat -- a risk given the informal trade in 'bushmeat' in forested central and west Africa. Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images
People walk past the sign of a 'maquis,' a small African restaurant which serves bushmeat, in Kobakro, outside Abidjan, on April 8, 2014. The Ministry of Health has asked Ivorians, 'particularly fond of porupine and agouti,' a small rodent, to avoid consuming or handling the meat, as an unprecedented Ebola epidemic hit West Africa, claiming more than 90 lives. The virus can spread to animal primates and humans who handle infected meat -- a risk given the informal trade in 'bushmeat' in forested central and west Africa. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images
Staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation bury the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A nurse of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation examines a patient in the in-take area at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Members and supporters of the Parti Democratique Senegalais (PDS, Senegal's Democratic Party) hold poster showing their leader, former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade and his son Karim, and a placard reading 'Macky Ebola Sall' (referring to the current president and the deadly virus) as they rally in front of the party's headquarters in Dakar on April 23, 2014. Senegal's former president Abdoulaye Wade was due to return home on Wednesday after two years abroad following his election defeat, with his son facing jail for corruption. Wade, who held power from 2000 to 2012, moved to France after suffering a bitter defeat to current President Macky Sall, his former prime minister turned arch-rival, in March 2012. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Health workers speak to relatives of peolpe infected with Ebola at an isolation center at Donka Hospital in Conakry on April 14, 2014. Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Fall said on April 14 that the west African country had brought the spread of the deadly Ebola virus under control after more than 100 people have died. The outbreak is one of the most deadly, with 168 cases 'clinically compatible' with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on April 14. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
Health workers walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry on April 14, 2014. Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Fall said on April 14 that the west African country had brought the spread of the deadly Ebola virus under control after more than 100 people have died. The outbreak is one of the most deadly, with 168 cases 'clinically compatible' with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on April 14. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
Staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation carry the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A worker transports dirt in a wheelbarrow at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral hemmorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Guinean hospital staff and staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation listen to a nurse from the aid organisation speak on April 1, 2014, in Guekedou, during a talk about viral hemorrhagic fever. The viral hemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A Senegalese hygienist demonstrates how to protect oneself against the Ebola virus on April 8, 2014 at Dakar airport, during a visit of the Senegalese health minister to check the safety measures put in place to fight against the virus' spread in western Africa. West Africa's Ebola outbreak is among the 'most challenging' ever to strike since the disease emerged four decades ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on April 8, as the suspected death toll from the virus hit 111. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Senegal's health minister Awa Marie Coll Seck (2nd L) listens to Alioune Fall (R), chief doctor of Dakar airport, as she visits Dakar airport on April 8, 2014 to check the safety measures put in place to fight against the spread of the Ebola virus in western Africa. West Africa's Ebola outbreak is among the 'most challenging' ever to strike since the disease emerged four decades ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on April 8, as the suspected death toll from the virus hit 111. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A view of gloves and boots used by medical staff, drying in the sun, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A health specialist prepares filtered water at an isolation ward for patients at the Doctors Without Borders facility in Guékedou, southern Guinea. Guinea's President Alpha Conde warned of a 'health emergency' as authorities raced to contain a spiraling Ebola epidemic which has killed 78 people and prompted neighboring Senegal to close its border. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Guinean Red Cross uses a megaphone to give information concerning the Ebola virus during an awareness campaign on April 11, 2014 in Conakry. Guinea has been hit by the most severe strain of the virus, known as Zaire Ebola, which has had a fatality rate of up to 90 percent in past outbreaks, and for which there is no vaccine, cure or even specific treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described west Africa's first outbreak among humans as one of the most challenging since the virus emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reads a newspaper featuring a front page story on the death of Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer (pictured with his wife Decontee) who died of the Ebloa virus in Lagos on July 30, 2014. Nigeria is on alert against the possible spread of Ebola after the first confirmed death from the virus in Lagos, Africa's biggest city and the country's financial capital. The victim, who worked for the Liberian government, collapsed at Lagos international airport after arriving on a flight from Monrovia via the Togolese capital Lome, according to the Nigerian government. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that the crisis gripping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone would only get worse and could not rule out it spreading to other countries. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A pharmacist searches for drugs in a pharmacy in Lagos on July 26, 2014. Nigeria was on alert against the possible spread of Ebola on July 26, a day after the first confirmed death from the virus in Lagos, Africa's biggest city and the country's financial capital. The health ministry said Friday that a 40-year-old Liberian man died at a private hospital in Lagos from the disease, which has now killed more than 650 people in four west African countries since January. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
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By HEATHER MURDOCK

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) - Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world's deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa's largest city with 21 million people.

The fact that the traveler from Liberia could board an international flight also raised new fears that other passengers could take the disease beyond Africa due to weak inspection of passengers and the fact Ebola's symptoms are similar to other diseases.

Officials in the country of Togo, where the sick man's flight had a stopover, also went on high alert after learning that Ebola could possibly have spread to a fifth country.

Screening people as they enter the country may help slow the spread of the disease, but it is no guarantee Ebola won't travel by airplane, according to Dr. Lance Plyler, who heads Ebola medical efforts in Liberia for aid organization Samaritan's Purse.

Deadly Ebola Case Reported In Nigeria's Biggest City


"Unfortunately the initial signs of Ebola imitate other diseases, like malaria or typhoid," he said.

Ebola already had caused some 672 deaths across a wide swath of West Africa before the Nigeria case was announced. It is the deadliest outbreak on record for Ebola, and now it threatens Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.

"Lagos is completely different from other cities because we're talking about millions of people," said Plan International's Disaster Response and Preparedness Head, Dr. Unni Krishnan.

Nigerian newspapers describe the effort as a "scramble" to contain the threat after the Liberian arrived in Lagos and then died Friday.

International airports in Nigeria are screening passengers arriving from foreign countries for symptoms of Ebola, according to Yakubu Dati, the spokesman for Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria.

Health officials are also working with ports and land borders, he said. "They are giving out information in terms of enlightenment, what to do, what to look out for."

And Nigerian airports are setting up holding rooms to ready in case another potential Ebola victim lands in Nigeria.

Airports in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three other West African countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak, have implemented some preventive measures, according to officials in those countries. But none of the safeguards are foolproof, say health experts.

Doctors say health screens could be effective, but Ebola has a variable incubation period of between two and 21 days and cannot be diagnosed on the spot.

Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for the Liberian Ministry of Finance arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and was immediately detained by health authorities suspecting he might have Ebola, Plyler said.

On his way to Lagos, Sawyer's plane also stopped in Lome, Togo, according to the World Health Organization.

Authorities announced Friday that blood tests from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital confirmed Sawyer died of Ebola earlier that day.

Sawyer reportedly did not show Ebola symptoms when he boarded the plane, Plyler said, but by the time he arrived in Nigeria he was vomiting and had diarrhea. There has not been another recently recorded case of Ebola spreading through air travel, he added.

Nearly 50 other passengers on the flight are being monitored for signs of Ebola but are not being kept in isolation, said an employee at Nigeria's Ministry of Health, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Sawyer's sister also died of Ebola in Liberia, according to Liberian officials, but he claimed to have had no contact with her. Ebola is highly contagious and kills more than 70 percent of people infected.

An outbreak in Lagos, Africa's megacity where many live in cramped conditions, could be an unprecedented disaster in what is already the largest Ebola outbreak on record.

"Lagos is completely different from other cities because we're talking about millions of people," said Plan International's Disaster Response and Preparedness Head, Dr. Unni Krishnan.

Ebola is passed by touching bodily fluids of patients even after they die, he said. Traditional burials that include rubbing the bodies of the dead contribute to the spread of the disease, Krishnan added.

There is no "magic bullet" cure for Ebola, but early detection and treatment of fluids and nutrition can be effective, said Plyler in Liberia. Quickly isolating patients who show symptoms is also crucial in slowing the spread of the disease.

West African hospital systems have weak and "often paralyzed" health care systems, he added, and are not usually equipped to handle Ebola outbreaks. International aid organizations like his and Doctors Without Borders have stepped in, but they also lack enough funding and manpower. "We need more humanitarian workers," he said. "We need resources."

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