Frequent flyers in Birmingham address concerns about air travel

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Ranee Cullin flew into the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport Wednesday afternoon from Dallas. She says while she was sitting in the airport, the news broke that another Ebola patient was in that same airport just days earlier.

“People in the airport were talking about it. People were afraid to order coffee and they were afraid to touch anything. I didn’t want to sit next to people that were sick,” said Cullin.

Cullin said she kept hand sanitizing wipes with her and tried to cover her hands with her sweater throughout the flight. She said she is terrified about the virus and her fears were heightened when she did not see anyone cleaning or disinfecting inside the airport or her flight.

MORE: Ebola joke causes panic on US Airways flight

However, Matthew Write says he trusts the CDC facts about Ebola. He flew from Atlanta, where he said he witnessed crowds of people surrounding televisions as news outlets discussed Ebola. Still, Write said he is not worried about the virus.

“I’m more worried about getting the flu than anything else,” said Write.

Dr. Gregory Palega is an internal medicine doctor who works in North Carolina. He says he has his suspicions about what the government is telling the American people about the virus.

“My view as a physician, and also as a person, is when something has a kill rate of 50 percent and 80 percent you should be a little conservative with your estimates. Until you’re absolutely 100 percent sure how something can be spread, you should take full precautions — air cautions and contact precautions,” said Palega.

He also criticized the CDC for not containing the virus sooner.

MORE: Airport screening for Ebola 5 Things you should know

“When dealing with an outbreak, one of the first thoughts would be the idea of containment rather than moving people across continents for treatment,” Palega said.

Palega said he will not eat anything on his flight, or shake any hands with people. He joked that he wished he could hold his breath for the full duration of flight.

Psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow says anxiety among flyers is to be expected.

“There is a lot of fear here, and there should be a lot of fear here, because we are dealing with a situation that is scary and is unknown. It’s not that we need to be calm, but we need to be rational. By keeping our anxiety levels down, we can be rational.”

Copyright WIAT 42 News 2014

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