Passengers Leave Delta Flight After Health Scare

Flight was reportedly under quarantine after reports of an ill passenger.

ByABC News
April 26, 2012, 6:51 PM

April 26, 2012— -- Reports of a passenger's unusual skin rash on a Delta flight led health officials temporarily to prevent passengers from leaving the plane after it landed until they confirmed it was not an infectious disease.

The news of a quarantine of flight 3163 from Detroit followed reports of an ill passenger, according to ABC News station WLS in Chicago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had initially contacted Delta and asked it to hold the plane, according to a statement from the airline.

The CDC issued a statement to ABC News Thursday evening in which it said it took action based on concerns that the rash indicated something worse.

"CDC received a report earlier this evening of a passenger on a plane at Midway Airport who had a rash," the statement reads. "Since the passenger had been in Africa, a family member had reported concerns that the rash might be monkeypox."

According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare viral disease that occurs mostly in central and western Africa. The signs and symptoms of monkeypox are like those of smallpox, but usually milder.

According to the Delta statement, Chicago Emergency Medical Services evaluated the passenger and medical staff at CDC and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) reviewed the case.

"[B]ased on the patient's symptoms and photographs of the rash, it does not appear that the signs and symptoms are consistent with a monkeypox infection," the statement read. "The ill passenger was advised to seek medical care and the rest of the passengers were released from the plane. CDC and CDPH believe there is very little risk to other passengers.

"However," the statement continued, "out of an abundance of caution, the airline will be collecting contact information for other passengers should CDC need to contact them in the future."

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Health met the plane on the tarmac and worked with emergency crews to assess the issue. According to the city's Department of Aviation, the plane landed at the airport this afternoon.

Passengers on the flight said that the plane pulled up to the gate after landing, but the pilot would not open the door, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Instead, according to the article, two officers in Hazmat suits from the Chicago Fire Department boarded the plane to examine a passenger, a woman who had been in Uganda. The officers took pictures of the woman and sent them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the passenger quoted in the article.

The head of quarantine at the CDC told ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser that while the female passenger had displayed a skin rash, she had no fever, swelled lymph nodes or other indicators of a serious infectious disease.