Chicago Marathon Officials Preparing for Ebola Threat

Michael Gaio Headshot
(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Organizing an open-access event comes with plenty of challenges. There’s coordinating the logistics, finding sponsors, and of course, organizing security to keep participants and fans safe.

On top of that, this weekend’s 37th annual Chicago Marathon comes with an additional threat: Ebola.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s latest update on October 3rd, 3,439 people have died worldwide due to the disease. It is the largest Ebola epidemic in history. As the Chicago Tribune reports, Chicago Marathon officials say they’re prepared for anything, including Ebola.

Dr. George Champas, head marathon physician, said a staff of 1,500 volunteer medical personnel along with the Chicago Fire Department and emergency medical services personnel are prepared to deal with communicable diseases — just as they have been in the past.

“Our message to all of our runners has always been if they develop any sort of symptoms, whether prior to arriving to the United States, or prior to coming to Chicago or while they’re here, is if they see any viral sort of symptoms to seek some medical advice,” Champas told reporters Tuesday. “So that message is something that we’ll continue to communicate.”

Champas said runners represent all 50 states and 132 countries but none hail from West Africa, where the most severe outbreak of Ebola has occurred. He said some runners are coming from East Africa.

The city has experience dealing with diseases and other issues. Race officials will practice the same guidelines they have with SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle Ease Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus), and influenza.

In 2007, the Chicago Marathon was halted about halfway through due to excessive heat. As AB's Paul Steinbach wrote then:

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