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Could the spread of the measles outbreak be stemmed by a little-used action from the U.S. federal government?
Apparently so, although officials are not quite ready to take such a drastic step.
It's called the "do not board" list, and while it sounds clandestine and murky, it actually is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC can implement the no-travel ban on individuals it believes might have the measles (or other communicable diseases, as the case may be).
Already, health officials have warned eight people in five states - New York, California, Illinois, Texas and Washington - that they could be placed on the list. So far, that hasn't happened but all eight, who are believed to be infected with measles, voluntarily agreed to cancel their flights once contacted by their respective state health departments.
"The deterrent effect is huge," Martin Cetron, director of the CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, which tracks disease outbreaks, told the Washington Post.
To be clear, the "do not board" list is different from the "no-fly" list managed by the Department of Homeland Security to combat terrorism in the skies. Nonetheless, "do not board" is a government option that few realize exists.
And, according to one expert, the government likes it that way, at least in this day and age.
"It is a politically charged and politically visible request," Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health policy at Georgetown University, told the Post. "(It) "is seen as a government using its power over the people and the states, which is kind of toxic in America right now."
Still, perception aside, Gostin noted the important efficacy of "do not board."
"There is nothing unethical or wrong about it," he said. "It's just plain common sense that if you have an actively infectious individual, they should not get on an airplane."
Cetron said the risk of catching measles on a plane is low since 80-85% of passengers likely have been immunized. But it's that same 15-20% who have not been immunized that has led to a record number of cases in the U.S. this year, including 62 investigations of people with measles who have already flown.
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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