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Travel Bans: Help or Hinder the Fight Against Ebola?

Summary: The World Health Organization (WHO) is against any travel ban from West African countries that have been affected by Ebola. Why?
Air Date: 10/24/14
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: Rade B. Vukmir, MD & David C. Pigott, MD
Dr. Rade Vukmir

Rade B. Vukmir, MD, JD, FCCP, FACEP, FACHE, is Chief Clinical Officer for National Guardian Risk Retention Group. Dr. Vukmir is the Chairman of ECI's Education and Risk Management Department. He holds an academic appointment as Professor (Adjunct) of Emergency Medicine at Temple University. He has written extensively about Ebola and infectious disease in general.

He is board-certified in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Dr. Vukmir received medical and legal degrees from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. He completed a residency program in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, a clinical fellowship in Critical Care at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a research fellowship in Resuscitation at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research. He is a certified instructor of Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Advanced Trauma Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and the Fundamentals of Critical Care Support.

He is the author of 42, peer-reviewed medical journal articles, as well as seven books. He is the recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Affiliated Residency and Emergency Medicine Faculty Excellence Award for 1991 and 1992.

Dr. David Pigott

David C. Pigott, MD, FACEP, is Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vice Chair for Academic Development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Pigott has authored multiple articles and book chapters related to viral hemorrhagic fevers, including the Ebola virus and serves as a manuscript reviewer on viral hemorrhagic fevers for The Lancet.

He is teaching two related courses about Ebola and the U.S. Experience and infectious disease at ACEP's upcoming Scientific Assembly conference in Chicago.
Travel Bans: Help or Hinder the Fight Against Ebola?
When the first outbreak of Ebola happened in Western Africa, you might have felt little concern since it seemed so far away. However, months have passed and more cases have been popping up in the U.S. and Europe, which may be increasing panic and your demand that something be done to contain the virus.

Some say it's essential to restrict flights from Africa in order to decrease the chances of more cases appearing in the United States. Others say not only will it not help, but it could hurt the situation in Africa.

There are currently several screening protocols in five of the major U.S. airports: O'Hare International, Newark Liberty International, Kennedy International, Washington Dulles International, and Hartsfield-Jackson International. The screening protocol includes taking temperatures and asking people flying in from Western African if they might have been exposed to Ebola.

If someone is coming from West Africa, there are no direct flights to America. Typically, you have to stop in other cities and countries to transfer flights. Experts fear that if there is a travel ban, it will cause people to find other ways to travel that are less monitored.

What else could be done to prevent the spread of Ebola in West Africa and current outbreaks in the United States?

Rade B. Vukmir, MD, and David C. Pigott, MD, discuss if a travel ban would be helpful or hurtful in fighting Ebola.