EBOLA AIR TRAVEL passenger flows from W#2  OCT 1 2014

NEW YORK – In an article published in a scientific journal one month ago, an international team of scientists correctly predicted Ebola would reach the United States by the end of September, arguing a reduction in airline travel of as much as 80 percent would only delay the international spread of the disease by three to four weeks at most.

The study, published in the scientific journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks, used data supplied by the World Health Organization on the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control reported the first case of Ebola brought to the U.S. by an airline passenger.

The study noted the near impossibility of completely ending air travel from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three West African countries most affected by the disease. It pointed out that airlines that have discontinued flights continue to assist West African travelers by booking them on other airlines.

“We have explored the scenario assuming an 80 percent airline traffic flow reduction to and from the West African region that provided evidence of a general time-delay of the distribution characterizing the probability of case importation of about three to four weeks,” the scientists said.

“Although this delay may be useful, it would not help much unless interventions on the ground could be put in place in the interval that were effective in stopping the growth of the [Ebola] outbreak.”

The researchers also agreed with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control that restrictions in air travel “may hamper the deployment of personnel and support in the region, ultimately creating a counter-productive effect in the containment effort.”

The scientists said that containing Ebola in Nigeria was critical to the effort to control the disease, because Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa with more than 166 million people, generates the most international travel.

Ranked in order, the top countries outside Africa where the scientists predicted Ebola would spread are the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, the United States and Germany.

Get the bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus, Richard Preston’s No. 1 New York Times bestseller, “The Hot Zone.”

The scientists noted “the ability to detect Ebola cases during international flights can affect the risk of importation.” They added that airports that are final destinations are more at risk of importing Ebola, because people infected with the disease don’t usually show symptoms until three weeks later.

The study concluded with an ominous warning: “The current analysis shows that if the West African outbreak is not contained, the probability of international spread is going to increase consistently, especially if other countries are affected and not able to contain the epidemic.”

WND reported last week an immigration expert contends the Obama administration’s unwillingness to ban air travel from West Africa leaves the U.S. vulnerable to the disease.

WND has also reported Air France pilots and aircrews have pushed for the right to refuse to fly to West Africa.

The CDC  issued a traveler’s alert for all U.S. residents “to avoid travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leon because of unprecedented outbreaks of Ebola in those countries.” But the CDC alert stopped short of an air travel embargo, merely recommending “that travelers to these countries protect themselves by avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are sick with Ebola.”

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