After looking through the available Stack Exchange sites, this one seems to come closest to the appropriate place to ask...

Popular opinion, including my own, is that banning flights to and from the Ebola-ridden portion of Africa would protect us overall. I understand it would increase pressure on that region, making it more chaotic and less conducive to tracking people, so that eventually it could "explode uncontrollably" out of that region in a year or whatever time frame. Sanjay Gupta explains this briefly in Jon Stewart's (at points hysterical) report.

The disadvantage of allowing free travel to and from these regions, as I see it, is that the disease spreads much much faster, and to many many more disparate locations. This is because of the variety of places where each passenger comes from. And also the flight crew and plane itself, which affects all future passengers.

I'd appreciate more educated opinions. I'm far from it, regarding these issues, as are many Americans.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The main disadvantage is that you will not get aid into the region which is extremely urgent. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Oct 17, 2014 at 11:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I suspect that the main issue is the balance between containment (might favour closing borders) and control of people that enter the country (might favour allowing controlled airtravel). It has been argued that banning flights will lead to more people entering the country illegaly, which means that they cannot be screened for the disease in the same way as airtravellers. However, much of this also deals with politics, trade etc. From a biological viewpoint the issues should mainly be routes/vectors of dispersal and identification/containment of infected individuals. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2014 at 11:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The question is if this would help. I doubt it, since people which are infected, but have not yet developed symptoms (meaning they are not contagious), can travel via land across borders. This will probably slow the spreading down but it will not prevent it completely. $\endgroup$
    – Karolas
    Oct 17, 2014 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it seems prudent to at least have flights from these locations limited to highly-prepared sections of the airport. It would also make sense to permit them to land only at specific airports. In the dead center of JFK is probably not a good idea. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2014 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ Having them separated at the airport only gives you better options in separating out passengers that started showing symptoms while on board. Infected passengers without symptoms could still change to another plane afterwards, that will not be tracked as it did not depart directly from the Ebola region. $\endgroup$
    – skymningen
    Oct 20, 2014 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


I think the disadvantages are mostly economical in that region and so they has nothing to do with epidemiology. Possibly a long term effect can be, that the economy of the region turns from bad to worse, which can affect the healthcare too, but that's just speculation.

The advantages are obvious, ebola is quarantined at some level, so these measures prevent or at least slow down its spread around the world.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .