Union representing United Airlines flight attendants wants stronger passenger screening for Ebola

AFA represents Denver-based United cabin crew

DENVER - The organization that represents United Airlines flight attendants in Denver is expressing concern about how Ebola is being tracked and screened worldwide.  

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) represents more than 700 Denver-based flight attendants.

"It doesn't matter where you are.  A passenger from Liberia could end up in Denver," said Vicki Jurgens who chairs the AFA's Safety, Health and Security Committee.

Jurgens feels there should be even more checks for Ebola than the systems already in place.

"It's important that we focus not just so much on the international travel, because once they're here in the U.S. they could have exposed people as well," she said.

Jurgens and her colleagues want passengers traveling from West Africa to be tested and screened throughout their travels -- not just when they first depart the country, as it can take several hours for the symptoms to appear.

She knows flight attendants would be the first responders if someone gets sick in the sky.

"We have to understand we may be transporting people who have not diagnosed themselves or don't realize they're ill," said Jurgens.

Still, doctors stress the threat of Ebola exposure is low.

"Are you at risk if you fly or travel a lot?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart.

"No, again unless you're traveling to those countries, and again, you're planning on being in a health care facility, it's unlikely that you're going to be exposed," said Dr. Michelle Barron of the University of Colorado Hospital.

Flight attendants agree, yet as global travel becomes even easier, safeguards and training take on added importance.

"If we think that we are only concerned about what happens in the US, we make ourselves vulnerable by not paying attention," said Jurgens.

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