Mexico has posted large signs at border crossings and airports warning travelers about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, symptoms of the disease and how to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We’re also handing out fliers,” said Dr. Puertas Rincones, director of health services and sanitation for Chihuahua in the border city Ciudad Juarez.
“I don’t know anything about Ebola symptoms,” said Miguel Torres, a Juarez resident as he waited outside a Chihuahua Health department office with his young daughter.
But in recent weeks up to 90 percent of health care workers have been trained to detect Ebola cases. “That includes both private and public hospitals,” said Dr Rincones.
Mexico did not allow a U.S. cruise ship to dock in Cozumel because a passenger had possibly been exposed to Ebola.
The Texas lab worker was in voluntary isolation on the ship and told to self-monitor because she had possibly handled samples from the Ebola patient who died at a Dallas hospital.
Mexico is monitoring people from abroad who are entering the country especially those from West Africa and offering detailed information to its citizens who may travel to the area of the epidemic on how to prevent infection.
Mexican citizens are asked to notify airlines before boarding planes to return home from West Africa about possible exposure and any symptoms of the illness. There are no direct flights from the region of the Ebola epidemic and Mexico.
“Travel to the region or contact with a patient during the past 21 days” are critical factors said Dr. Puertas. “Ebola symptoms are similar to many other illnesses including the flu,” said Dr. Puertas.
In August Mexico issued a travel alert warning its citizens to avoid all but essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon.
But some foreign travelers arriving in Mexico do not use airports or border crossings but instead try to slip into the country from Guatemala and make their way to the United State border using smugglers.
Since August statistics from Mexico’s National Migration Institute show authorities have detained 21 Africans from countries where there has been an Ebola outbreak according to various Mexican news reports.
None has Ebola and Mexico has no reported cases of the deadly disease.
Health authorities all along the southwest border on both sides coordinate efforts to detect, report and prevent the spread of various infectious diseases.
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“We are in regular contact,” said Armando Saldivar, spokesman for the El Paso Health Department.
While U.S. health authorities try to avoid public panic over the first Ebola cases, many are calm in Mexico.
“Only God has the answers, said Manuel Urbina. “I don’t believe Ebola is a real threat,” said Urbina.