NEW CARLISLE, Ind. (CBS) — The woman who touched off a health scare on a Delta jet at Midway Airport says she didn’t mean to cause trouble.
The Centers for Disease Control and the Chicago Fire Department initially thought she may have a serious disease.
It turns out what she had was scabies, a skin disease that can only be spread skin to skin. The passenger, Lisa Sievers of Red Wing, Minn., tells CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez why a phone call to her mother touched off the quarantine with fears of something much worse.
Sievers recalls seeing 30 emergency vehicles out the plane window when it arrived at Midway on Thursday afternoon from Detroit. Passengers were told a fellow traveler might have a contagious disease.
“The CDC has said that everyone stays on this plane until we figure it out what it is … and I said, ‘I think you’re talking about me,’” Sievers says.
In response, some nearby passengers pulled their shirts over their mouths.
Sievers’ legs, arms and side were covered in dry, but itchy, little red dots, which had receded by Friday.
“There were hundreds of them,” she says.
Her blouse covered them all up, but she noticed they’d gotten worse during her journey home from Uganda, where she believed she may have been bitten by bedbugs. She mentioned them to her mom on the phone during a layover.
To be safe, her mother decided to warn the local hospital. They, in turn, called the CDC, which called the airline — leading to a scare for passengers and a major news story.
“It wasn’t until I was there that I understood the scope of what was happening, that it had gone across the country,” Sievers says.
But she has nothing but praise for the emergency responders, who treated her respectfully.
“They could have made me feel like a leper,” she says.
Sievers, the mother of 14, was returning after adopting two children in Uganda, a place where a child dying from AIDS might have a tough time getting medical attention.
But here at home, bug bites practically brought out the National Guard.
The bug-bite scare that sent Sievers to the hospital may have been a blessing in disguise. She says doctors were far more concerned about a dangerous blood-thinning condition she’d developed due to her diet while in Uganda.
Gone untreated, she says, it could have been deadly.