Times of Israel
By Times of Israel Staff and AP, October 17, 2014

Screening passengers using infrared cameras is a no-brainer, says BGU’s Leslie Lobel, who has been working on cure for a decade.

Emergency crews stand next to a plane, carrying 163 people, at the Madrid Airport, Spain, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. An Air France plane was isolated at Madrid's airport on Thursday because of a suspected Ebola case after a passenger was reported to have a fever and shivers, officials said. (Photo credit: AP/Antoni Manchado)
Emergency crews stand next to a plane, carrying 163 people, at the Madrid Airport, Spain, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. An Air France plane was isolated at Madrid’s airport on Thursday because of a suspected Ebola case after a passenger was reported to have a fever and shivers, officials said. (Photo credit: AP/Antoni Manchado)

The airport screening of passengers for Ebola using infrared cameras to detect temperatures is a simple, obvious precautionary measure, said an Israeli expert in the field.

According to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Professor Leslie Lobel, “the world has been asleep for 50 years regarding infectious diseases and Ebola is the wake-up call.”

Lobel is a world-recognized virologist who has studied the virus and others emanating from the African continent.

“Fifty years ago, we were dealing with eradicating polio, smallpox and yellow fever which had similarly high mortality rates. Today, most of the world seems to understand the need to screen passengers in airports using infrared cameras for elevated temperature as a simple precaution — the US is lagging behind,” said Dr. Lobel.

Dr. Leslie Lobel in the lab
Dr. Leslie Lobel in the lab. (photo credit: Dani Machlis/Courtesy Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

The American-Israeli professor has been researching a cure for hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola, for a decade, the university said in a press release.

The US and other countries started implementing screenings at airports earlier this month, weeks after the outbreak began in West Africa.

On Friday, Israeli officials conducted an Ebola identification training exercise at Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.

As part of the drill, officials administered first aid and evacuated anybody with a high temperature — and who arrived from countries where the Ebola virus is active — to the Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

A meeting of top Health Ministry officials decided this week that should any Ebola cases be detected in Israel, they will be quarantined and treated either at Sheba or at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a conference call Thursday to review the exercise procedures with Health Minister, Yael German; Health Ministry director, Prof. Arnon Afek; and director general of Ben Gurion Airport, Shmuel Zakai.

Netanyahu ordered increased preparations at all points of entry into the country, including taking the temperature of travelers arriving from affected areas in West Africa.

Earlier Friday, the World Health Organization admitted that it botched attempts to stop the now-spiraling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information.

“Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” WHO said in a draft internal document obtained by The Associated Press, noting that experts should have realized that traditional containment methods wouldn’t work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems.


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