Plane passengers quarantined as officials examine medical emergency at Louisiana airport
New Orleans, LA, United States (4E) – An American Airlines flight 1003 from Miami was retained for almost two hours on the tarmac of the Louis Armstrong-New Orleans International Airport Monday night as a precaution after being warned by its pilot that a passenger has shown signs of illness feared as typhoid fever.
Officials reported that the captain radioed ahead, informing authorities of a medical emergency, after a woman vomited and showed undefined symptoms of illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was immediately notified about the incident.
Emergency medical personnel were quickly dispatched to the plane when it landed and the sick passenger was brought to the Ochsner Hospital in Kenner.
According to the authorities, they were not able to validate the passenger’s sickness but several from the plane’s 156 passengers said that pilots and others on board assumed it could be typhoid fever.
Although the illness remained unconfirmed by officials, Dr. Michael Wasserman of the Ochsner Health System said that it is unlikely that other passengers were infected.
Wasserman explained that typhoid fever is spread by touch or if food were shared. He said that “just being on the plane is not a concern unless you used the restroom and didn’t wash your hands carefully or you shook hands with the person who was ill.”
The remaining passengers were declared under quarantine for two hours before the CDC allowed them to leave the plane. They were also advised to wash the clothes they are wearing during the flight.
Officials emphasized that the quarantine measure was preemptive in nature.
Airport Deputy Director Michelle Wilcut said that the passengers were held on board under an abundance of caution. She added that all of the protocols were followed based on what was known.
After being cleaned, the aircraft departed New Orleans with passengers on board later that night.