Ebola putting fear of flying in some passengers

Ebola putting fear of flying in some passengers

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If any internal alarms were going off about Ebola, it was hard to tell at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

Kent Johnson doesn't appear to be an alarmist, but he's much more worried about airplane flight since the second case of Ebola in Dallas has been confirmed.

The former Wiggins resident arrived on the Coast from his home in Colorado Springs after a stop in Houston. For him, even a sneeze or a cough in the strict confines of a passenger jet can set off alarm bells.

"When we were on the plane, there were people coughing, stuff like that, and it kind of makes you a little jittery about OK, are we safe? Are we OK," Johnson said. "One of the things we talked about was maybe when we fly back, maybe we need a mask or something, because we just don't know."

Susan Barnes, of Biloxi, was more upset about the lack of concern from officials during her flight home from Bermuda

"We had a couple on our plane who was from Jordan, and I noticed he was coughing all the time," Barnes said. "The thing that concerned me was not the fact that he was coughing, it was the fact that nobody asked him any medical questions."

While some people are a little anxious about flight, emergency officials are the collective voice of calm saying they are fully prepared to handle any kind of health emergency, including Ebola.

Rusty Shoultz is the Assistant Fire Chief with the Combat Readiness Training Center, which oversees emergency management at the airport.

Shoultz says that because it is flu season, the key for officials in telling the difference between the flu and Ebola is answering these three questions:

Has this person ever traveled to Africa?

Have they been in contact with someone who had or potentially had Ebola?

Have they consumed any meat from these foreign countries?

Shoultz said if the answer to all three is no, the potential for infection is slim to none. The real key to stopping Ebola in its tracks, he said, is teamwork.

"I'm extremely confident that no matter the hazard or no matter the incident that faces the first responders in the community that we will handle it successfully, because of our team work and collaboration."

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