Fire and ambulance crews met the plane on the runway after it landed at 3:45 p.m. due to reports of a medical emergency. The Chicago Health Department responded and inspected the passenger, finding that she had an extensive rash -- but it was not consistent with an infectious disease. The woman had apparently been traveling in Uganda.
Late Thursday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the following statement:
"CDC received a report earlier this evening of a passenger on a plane at Midway Airport who had a rash. Since the passenger had been in Africa, a family member had reported concerns that the rash might be monkeypox. The passenger was evaluated by Chicago Emergency Medical Services. Medical staff at CDC and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) reviewed the case and, based on the patient's symptoms and photographs of the rash, it does not appear that the signs and symptoms are consistent with a monkeypox infection. The ill passenger was advised to seek medical care and the rest of the passengers were released from the plane. CDC and CDPH believe there is very little risk to other passengers. However, out of an abundance of caution, the airline will be collecting contact information for other passengers should CDC need to contact them in the future."
The son of Lise Sievers of Minnesota confirms she's the target. Sievers, he says, is adopting a special needs child in Uganda and was returning from Africa.
"She thought she had bed bugs, that's what she told my grandma,"
"The child had a rash," said passenger Tony Fox. "She came back in the country; her mother got upset, called health officials in LaPorte."
So responders took pictures of Sievers on the plane and sent them to health experts while passengers were doing their own research.
"We're reading Ebola, smallpox," passenger Sean Pennington said. "We're taking pictures. does it look like this? No, it doesn't look like that."
"Everyone was covering their mouths just to make sure we're not breathing something weird," said passenger Apeksha Gulvady. "Once they told us it looked like bug bites, nothing crazy, we were calmer."