The incident occurred about two weeks after President Barack Obama issued a video message to residents of Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa assuring them that “you cannot get Ebola through casual contact like sitting next to someone on a bus.”
Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later confirmed the CDC had vetted the president’s video message before it was posted on a number of U.S. embassy websites. He also said that CDC continued to stand behind the accuracy of the statement.
During a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked Frieden: “In a video message to countries in West Africa that are experiencing Ebola outbreaks, President Obama told residents they cannot get the disease by sitting next to someone on a bus. But CDC recommendations state that travelers in West Africa who begin to show possible symptoms, or people who have experienced a high risk of exposure, should avoid public transportation, including buses. And we’ve also seen large amounts of concern regarding potentially infected people traveling on airplanes.”
“My first question is, did the CDC vet this video message before it was released and posted on U.S. embassy websites, and is it true that a person runs absolutely no risk of contracting Ebola on public transportation, such as a bus?”
“Yes, CDC vetted the message, and, yes, we believe it’s accurate,” Frieden responded.
“I think there are two different parts of that equation,” he continued. “The first is, if you’re a member of the traveling public and are healthy, should you be worried that you might have gotten it by sitting next to someone? And the answer is no."
“Second, if you are sick and you may have Ebola, should you get on a bus? And the answer to that is also no. You might become ill, you might have a problem that exposes someone around you,” Frieden said.
On Friday, a bus carying a group going from the Pentagon to the Marine baracks in Southeast Washington, D.C., was stopped at 600 I Street SE because a woman, who reportedly said she had traveled to West Africa recently, had vomited in the bus's restroom while it was at the Pentagon.
“Lt. Col. Eric Dent, public affairs officer for the Marine commandant, was on the bus that the woman boarded,” reported the Post. “He said that the bus was bound for a change-of-command ceremony at the Marine Barracks in the District and that the 22 passengers, including the driver, included several Marines, their spouses and other guests invited to the ceremony by the Defense Department.
“Dent said that the bus was in the Pentagon parking lot when the woman, who was not dressed as if she were headed to the ceremony, got on board,” the Post reported. “She walked to the back of the bus, used the bathroom there, then left the bus without touching anyone on board, Dent said. Afterward, he said, the driver told bus passengers that the woman had thrown up and collapsed outside. He saw emergency workers arrive.”
Inova Fairfax Hospital released this statement later Friday morning: “A patient has presented to the Inova Fairfax Hospital Emergency Department for evaluation in relation to Ebola. The patient was immediately isolated and is undergoing triage in consultation with the Fairfax County Health Department. Based upon that evaluation, a decision will be made by the health department as to whether the patient meets the criteria to be tested for the Ebola virus. At this time, there is no additional information available.”