Lise Sievers blames her recent trip to Africa for causing her Delta Air Lines plane to be grounded and quarantined at Chicago's Midway airport Thursday afternoon.
"I was visiting Uganda .. where I'm adopting two special needs kids. So we stayed at a hotel the other night and I think it left friends on my body. My son, who's four and a half, had pustules on him," Sievers said after deplaning Flight 3163.
Sievers, 50, of Red Wing, Minn., said she called her mother from Detroit to tell her she and her son had been bitten by bedbugs. But her mom got "confused," Sievers said, and believed Sievers was potentially contagious.
The mother, Sally Lansford, called her local hospital in La Porte, Ind., and asked for advice. Hospital officials in turn notified the Centers for Disease Control, and officials there ordered the plane held while officials investigated.
Passengers were kept on the plane outside Gate A7 for more than two hours after landing. From the sky, NBC Chicago's helicopter could see the aircraft on the ground, surrounded by medical and emergency personnel.
"A couple of people came on board, went to one of the passengers, took photographs of her and of the sores that apparently existed. I couldn't tell from where I was sitting what those were," one passenger, David Grober, told NBC Chicago.
Another passenger on the plane posted a photo to Twitter showing an official wearing a face mask.
"Still in quarantine. They say it's not serious," Kayla Maree Sanders wrote in one Tweet.
Grober said the passengers were later given the all-clear, a fact later confirmed by The Centers for Disease Control in a statement:
"Passenger with rash illness has been examined, photos sent to CDC for analysis and based on info gathered has been released along with all other passengers."
The agency said there were initial concerns that Sievers' rash may have been monkeypox and said "appropriate follow up" with her was to come. Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC said Delta was collecting contact information for all passengers should they need to be contacted in the future.
"I have to say, Chicago Police Department, everybody just responded very well and all the passengers were great," Sievers said.