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Airport hospital procedures in place for patients with deadly diseases

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Updated: 8/07 11:52 pm

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- McCarran Airport has protocols in place should passengers arrive in Las Vegas extremely ill, possibly carrying a contagious illness.

The scenarios may be different, but when it comes to public health hazards, McCarran has procedures ready to enact.

In the case of gravely ill passengers arriving infected with illnesses, whether it's Ebola or the Avian Flu, the airport immediately turns the situation over to the Southern Nevada Health District.

"We are prepared for virtually anything that happens here," said Chief Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser of the Southern Nevada Health District.

Iser says notification may even come from the aircraft.

"The flight attendant would let the captain know, the captain would let the airport know. They might even be diverted to another airport than the one they were going to," Iser said.

Depending on the realization of people coming in with a possible serious illness, once the health district is notified, it is in charge.

"We would find a place to quarantine someone, and I don't mean legal quarantine, I mean to put them aside from other passengers," Iser said.

Careful transportation would then follow to one of the 17 valley hospitals, but Iser says it would likely be UMC, where rooms are quickly ready to keep a patient in quarantine. Iser stresses while he doesn't anticipate Ebola coming into the valley, or even other illnesses such as MERS, SARS or the Avian Flu, the procedures are in place.

He says while they are deadly, there are other illnesses that concern him in the valley.

"TB and sexually transmitted diseases on a daily basis are more worrisome," Iser said. The health district recently dealt with TB at a high school and hospital in our valley.

Nevertheless, Iser says medical leaders are about as ready as they can be to handle deadly sicknesses. In the next couple of weeks, Dr. Iser plans to meet with airport leaders to talk about the procedures for handling very ill passengers.

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