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Sick passenger who prompted Ebola scare at LAX recently visited Africa

Health officials determined the sick passenger who sparked an Ebola scare Sunday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport did not have the disease but had recently visited Africa.

A female passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 703 that had departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport began displaying “flu-like symptoms.”

“When she was ill in the plane, she was asked if she had been to Africa recently and she said yes,” said Jaime Moore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The crew alerted officials about 1:30 p.m that there was a sick passenger aboard, activating an emergency plan that was put in place by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in the wake of the Ebola crisis.

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When the plane landed about 2 p.m., it was diverted to remote gate 201 on the far west side of the airport to isolate it from the central terminal. Firefighters wearing hazardous materials suits boarded the plane to remove the woman. 

Paramedics questioned the sick passenger to narrow down the possibility of whether she had been exposed to the Ebola virus, Moore said. They determined she had been in South Africa, far from West Africa, the epicenter of the Ebola crisis.

It was determined the woman was not at risk for Ebola, and she was released at 4:20 p.m.

“All necessary actions were taken in transporting the patient, assessing the patient’s travel history and symptoms,” according to a statement released by the health department.

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The other passengers, who were held on the plane, were released at 4:20 p.m., according to Moore. Officials stressed there was no risk of infection to anyone on the plane.

Health officials have been taking precautionary measures after a Liberian man carrying the deadly virus last month became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

Thomas Eric Duncan died in Dallas from the hemorrhagic fever Wednesday.  

Since Duncan first tested positive for Ebola, officials have been trying to contain the virus. But a healthcare worker who was treating Duncan contracted the disease, officials announced Sunday.

The virus is transmitted through the body fluids of an infected person once they start showing symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

In West Africa, more than 4,000 people have died from Ebola.

U.S. officials have established protocols and guidelines for dealing with people who might have the disease to minimize exposure to others.

Twitter: LATangel

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