Monkeypox Scare Leads to Chicago Flight Quarantine

A suspected outbreak of monkeypox on a Chicago-bound Delta flight led to a brief quarantine Thursday, but ultimately, the scare was a false alarm.

The monkeypox fears began when a passenger on Delta Flight 3163 out of Detroit reported a medical issue to crew, Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride told The Associated Press. As the flight approached Chicago’s Midway airport, fire crews and emergency medical staff were there to meet it at 3:45 PM.

Passenger Sean Pennington describes an announcement about the monkeypox scare that was likely terrifying for all on board. Pennington said:

“The captain comes on and says, ‘This may sound strange, but it seems like we’re going to be quarantined for a moment. Apparently somebody is onboard and they may or may not have something.”

Hands up if you would have been all like, “oh my god, it’s Ebola.” The passenger in question, Lise Sievers of Minnesota, was traveling back from Uganda, where she was working on the adoption of two girls. When Sievers spotted the rash and expressed concern, her mother contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta to report a possible monkeypox outbreak, prompting the flight’s two-hour long lockdown.


Fellow passenger Tony Fox explained to press:

“The child had some type of rash. [Sievers] came back into the country with a rash. Her mother got upset and called health officials in LaPorte.”

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection present in parts of Africa, that can be fatal in up to 10% of cases in humans. Fortunately, the rash is likely to have been due to bedbugs, and not monkeypox.