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Ebola Screening: Coming Soon to an Airport Near You?

(Update: October 8, 2014 10:24 a.m. EDT) A source tells CNN that passengers arriving in the U.S. from West Africa airports will have their temperatures checked at their arrival airport. Screenings are expected to begin this weekend or next week.

 Yesterday, amid growing fears of a stateside Ebola outbreak, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. is increasing airport-screening standards for the deadly virus.

Although U.S.-bound passengers were already subject to exit screening from West African airports, President Obama announced additional screening from U.S. agencies at both U.S. and West African airports. He did not specify exactly how screening procedures would change, but Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that current policy is under review and that administration officials are exploring a variety of options.

The CDC estimates that about 40,000 visitors have come to the U.S. from West Africa in the past six months; of these, one passenger has been found to be suffering from Ebola. That passenger, a 42-year-old Dallas-area man, is the first U.S. patient with a positive diagnosis and was infected after coming into contact with an Ebola victim in Liberia.

However, this victim’s case may explain why further screenings are necessary: Like all flyers departing from Liberia, Duncan was examined at the airport and showed no signs of the virus when he flew to Dallas last month. He became ill days later, was admitted to the hospital, and is now being treated.

According to the CDC, the maximum incubation period for Ebola is 21 days, but symptoms typically appear in eight to 10 days. Additional screenings may cover time gaps that the West African exit screenings currently do not.

So far, no flights to or from West Africa have been canceled due to Ebola worries, the CDC official said, although President Obama called the outbreak “a top national security priority.”

(Photo: Sia Kambou/Getty Images)

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