How well are German airports prepared for Ebola?

Thus, the spread is to be prevented by passengers entering

The Ebola virus has reached Europe © CDC
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Protection against the Ebola epidemic? Airports in Germany should already be prepared for the arrival of possible Ebola suspected cases - so it is said in any case: Detailed emergency plans and medical capacities are ready. Possibly infected travelers should be recognized in Germany at the airport and quarantined.


An end to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is not in sight. The first cases of infection have now spread to other patients outside of Africa. Both in Spain and in the US, nurses were in contact with Ebola patients. Concern about how well prepared the supposedly well-protected industrialized nations really are in such cases is also growing in Germany.

Medical measures at entry

A special risk already applies to the entry of potentially infected persons. At airports, therefore, special security precautions should apply. According to the Association of German Airports (ADV), the German airports are well prepared to deal with suspected cases of Ebola. According to the regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO), five airports are to be operated in Germany - Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and in future Berlin (BER) - provide so-called core capacities.

If the staff in a passenger plane a Ebola suspected case, the pilot reports this to the air traffic control. The aircraft is then diverted to one of these five airports. The aircraft is parked after landing on a special position. Specially trained medical staff then checks the travelers. According to the "Frankfurt Model", the possibly infected with Ebola passenger gets the status "red". A special vehicle takes this patient directly to a special isolation station. display

Status red, yellow or green

The remaining passengers receive either the status "yellow" or "green". Passengers who were in closer contact with those who may have been infected are considered "yellow" - at the discretion of the responsible physicians, they are also initially placed under quarantine. Everyone else receives detailed informational material and can go home immediately. So that there is no further contact between the different groups, yellow and green buses transport the passengers separately from the airfield to different rooms on the airport grounds.

Infrared clinical thermometer for temperature measurement without body contact. TrotecHealthCare / (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the United States, the health authorities rely on the so-called thermoscreening: Infrared thermometers are used to check air travelers from Ebola risk areas for fever. In this country, however, one wants to do without: "The effort involved in the implementation of the mass temperature measurement of arriving passengers is extremely high, " explains Ralph Beisel of the ADV.

No mass fever measurement

Above all, the low success rate speaks against this elaborate approach: Even with the SARS epidemic in Asia have been shown that the benefits of mass fever measurement is very doubtful, so the ADV. Theoretically, even a simple antipyretic drug is enough, and a sick passenger does not fill up during the temperature control. In addition, in the case of Ebola, infected individuals show no symptoms during the incubation period of up to 21 days. Both the German Robert Koch Institute and the WHO therefore do not recommend thermoscreening.

Emergency plans for dealing with dangerous infections at German airports have been around for years, but they are being developed further on the basis of new findings and regulations of the WHO. Responsible are the respective federal states. In the past, this concept has been proven on several occasions, including the SARS epidemic in 2003, a case of Lassafieber in 2006, and the spread of swine flu in 2009. Much more effective than any action at the destination airport However, according to the ADV, precautionary measures already exist in the Ebola crisis regions, "ie before a potentially infected passenger can ever board a plane".

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Verkehrsflugh fen, 13.10.2014 - AKR)