US Air Marshal in Quarantine After Suspected Ebola Needlestick Injury

September 26, 2014

An American federal air marshal has been placed in quarantine in Houston, Texas, after it was suspected that he was injured with a syringe. The incident happened in Lagos airport, Nigeria, where the current Ebola epidemic is sweeping Africa.

ABC reports that the marshal was able to board his flight to Houston and was met by FBI agents, as well as health workers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The man was in Nigeria as part of a team of marshals, and people remain concerned that the needlestick injury could have infected him with the Ebola virus, though this is yet unknown.

An FBI spokesperson said, "The victim did not exhibit any signs of illness during the flight and was transported to a hospital upon landing for further testing. None of the testing conducted has indicated a danger to other passengers."

The Ebola virus does not immediately present itself, making the air marshal safe to be around other passengers in the few hours after his needlestick injury. The syringe itself was secured and also flown back to the US to be tested.

Although incidents like these are rare, it highlights how important measures to prevent needlestick injuries in the workplace are, and how quickly a bloodborne pathogen can be spread.

The Ebola virus is not unique, although the latest African epidemic is at the focus of media right now. Many viruses, such as HIV, can be spread as easily as Ebola if the right precautions are not taken and all diseases that come from bloodborne pathogens should be taken as seriously at all times.

That is why it is important for all medical settings around the world to have the right safety devices in place. These, along with other preventative measures, can reduce the risk of employees suffering percutaneous injuries in the workplace, and will ultimately eliminate the danger of bloodborne diseases spreading.

Related Legislation and Guidelines: