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Woman says she was pulled off Spirit Airlines flight when staff mistook her eczema for monkeypox

Spirit Frontier
Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 19:20:37-04

A woman from California was boarding a Spirit Airlines flight with her wife when staff asked the two to deplane so they could question her about a visible skin condition that staff wanted to confirm was not monkeypox.

The woman, Jacqueline Nguyen, posted a video to TikTok detailing the matter, writing, "They had me get off the plane in front of everyone along with my wife to interrogate me about the eczema I've had my whole life. They asked me to provide medical documents and told my wife to watch her attitude. I've never been so humiliated in my life."

@jacqueline.ngu misinformation leads to discrimnation/hostility. everyone with a visible non-contagious skin condition has been anticipating this #monkeypox#eczema ♬ i'm Peppa Pig - funny

Nguyen followed up the video to explain that she was able to board the plane again after she showed the flight staff a prescription cream she uses for her condition.

Harry Nelson, a healthcare attorney who spoke to News Nation said, “The airlines have a right to express concerns about a possibly contagious condition and to ask patients for medical certification if there’s reason to believe that they are sick," he said. “The question here is really whether Spirit behaved reasonably and whether it was possible to mistake the passenger’s eczema, in this case, for monkeypox.”

Nguyen said she felt very lucky that she brought her prescription cream with her that day, but said she believes she shouldn't have to carry around proof of her condition.

The New York Post contacted Spirit Airlines about the matter but didn't immediately receive a response. Nguyen signaled that she may seek legal action saying to Spirit, “Maybe teach your employees what monkeypox looks like before you catch hundreds of medical discrimination cases," she said. “Misinformation leads to discrimination/hostility. Everyone with a visible non-contagious skin condition has been anticipating this.”

The video she posted to TikTok gained thousands of views and comes as the United States has declared monkeypox a public health emergency to free up federal funds and resources to combat the outbreak.

The CDC says monkeypox can spread in various ways:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions.