We’ve received some e-mails as well as several blog comments asking us to address the Scabies incident at Boston Logan International Airport.
You just never know what you’re going to write about around here. Formaldehyde, tin mint cans, frozen monkey heads, pie, exploding chickens, scabies, what next? Please don’t answer that…
As Google will show you, scabies is not all that uncommon. Dermatologists estimate that more than 300 million cases of scabies occur worldwide every year. The disease can strike anyone of any race or age, regardless of personal hygiene.
With that said, here is the lowdown on what happened at BOS and how TSA reacted. I think you’ll find that we thoroughly and swiftly addressed the issue.
TSA management at BOS was made aware of 8 suspected cases of scabies. TSA management immediately reached out to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Boston Public Health Commission and Massport. The Boston Public Health Commission informed TSA that only 2 of the 8 suspected cases were actually confirmed cases of scabies, and one of those cases was described as “mild.”
CDC and Public Health inspectors visited the airport and provided advice on how to proceed, ensuring every precaution was being taken. The Boston Public Health Commission also sent an Environmental Specialist to perform an onsite assessment.
Health experts have continued to tell TSA that transmission to passengers is highly improbable given that prolonged skin to skin contact is required. Keep in mind, TSOs are required to wear gloves during the screening process while handling passengers’ belongings. You can always request that a TSO change gloves prior to a bag search or pat down.
TSA worked with Massport to ensure the checkpoints, break rooms and other offices where these employees are assigned were professionally cleaned, including the floors and carpets.
Information on scabies (provided by the CDC) was shared with the TSA workforce, including recommendations on how to protect oneself. Employees were all instructed to wash their uniforms and coats as well as other personal belongings before bringing them back to work.
EoS Blog Team
Update ***04/09/2009 10:10 PM***
I have just been informed that 3 more cases have been confirmed at BOS. If there are any new developments, I'll post them here on the blog. ~ Blogger Bob
Update ***04/10/2009 1:17 PM***
TSA has provided details on these new cases to the Infectious Disease Bureau of the Boston Public Health Commission for their vetting and also made arrangements to have another checkpoint professionally cleaned. Additionally a local hotline for communicable diseases is available for personnel at the airport and for the general public to address any concerns (617-534-5611 or www.bphc.org). Again, health experts have continued to tell TSA that transmission to passengers is highly improbable given that prolonged skin to skin contact is required. ~ Blogger Bob