Woman Says Bed Bug Bites, Not Monkeypox, Caused Delta Flight Scare
Friday, April 27, 2012
Bedbugs can drive people out of house and home. Turns out they
have the power to stop a plane too.
A Minnesota woman's apparent case of bug bites caused a health
scare that grounded a Delta
Airlines flight at Chicago's Midway airport after
the bites were mistaken for a monkeypox infection.
Lise Sievers, 50, had called her mother in Indiana during her
flight's layover in Detroit and mentioned that one of the children
she had just visited in Uganda (in hopes of
adopting) had suffered from pus-filled red bumps. In the same
conversation, according to the Chicago
Tribune, she also mentioned she had some small bumps of her own
- ones that were not pus-filled, but that she said were probably
the result of bedbugs.
It seems something was lost in translation, because Sievers'
mother called a local hospital to ask about treatments for
pus-filled bumps, mentioned Uganda and the next thing Sievers knew,
her flight was surrounded by ambulances and fire vehicles -
quarantined as soon as it hit Midway's tarmac.
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention suspected monkeypox because it occurs mainly
in Africa, especially the western and central areas. Although
it can infect a number of mammals, including rats, mice, rabbits -
and even pet prairie dogs, which passed the virus on to humans in 2003, in the
first reported U.S. outbreak - monkeypox is so named because it was
first found in laboratory monkeys in 1958.
Monkeypox is a relative to smallpox virus, but
its symptoms are far less severe. Monkeypox can induce
fever, headache, muscle
aches and cause the lymph nodes
to swell. Within a few days of the fever onset, a rash starts to
form - often on the face - and spreads to other parts of the body.
It can take two to four weeks to recover.
As for how deadly the disease is, the CDC points out that
monkeypox has reportedly killed 1% to 10% of those infected - but
in all likelihood, the risk of death would be far lower in the
U.S., with comparatively better nutrition and medical care.