10/07/2014 03:40 pm ET Updated Dec 07, 2014

U.S. To Require Tougher Ebola Screenings At Airports: Senator

(Adds White House comment)

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. health officials are preparing to require tougher Ebola screening at American airports this week to keep the deadly virus from spreading to this country, Senator Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday.

The new measures may include screening air travelers for fever when they arrive in the United States from the worst-stricken countries in West Africa, on direct or indirect flights, Schumer said in a statement.

He said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told him the agency might adopt some of the recommendations Schumer had made on Ebola screening over the weekend.

Those included having the CDC and Customs and Border Protection conduct intense health screening of workers at U.S. ports of entry.

The New York Democrat also urged the Department of Homeland Security to create a database of people flying to and from West Africa, which would be shared with hospitals around the country.

"The CDC has been doing a very good job thus far in combating the threat, but you can't be too careful when it comes to stopping a deadly epidemic," Schumer said in the statement.

The outbreak has killed at least 3,439 people out of 7,492 confirmed, probable and suspected cases since it emerged in Guinea in March, in the worst Ebola epidemic on record. Along with Guinea, the worst-hit countries have been Sierra Leone and Ebola. The disease has also spread to Nigeria and Senegal, but is considered contained there. [IDD:nL2N0S123K]

A man who traveled to Dallas from Liberia last week became the first patient diagnosed with the disease on U.S. soil. In Spain, officials reported on Monday that a nurse had become the first person infected with the hemorrhagic virus in Europe.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration had confidence in the system as it exists but was working on additional safety protocols that would be announced in the coming days.

"The president's team is hard at work on developing additional protocols for additional screening measures," Earnest told reporters on Air Force One. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Jonthan Oatis)



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