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Health workers in the US evacuated to Nebraska with possible exposure to Ebola



An American health care worker who may have been exposed to Ebola during treatment for patients in DRC was evacuated to the United States on Saturday and placed in a secure area at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The person has no symptoms of fatal hemorrhagic fever and is not contagious, but is closely monitored for up to two weeks, hospital officials said.

When symptoms develop, the person is admitted to the biocontainment unit of the medical center. The subject treated patients outside the city's epicenter of the outbreak and had contact with a patient later diagnosed with Ebola. They are not aware of any other exposure to US citizens. The individual was flown in a private plane to the United States, not in airliners.

The American was among hundreds of health professionals who responded to the growing Ebola outbreak in Congo, the second largest in history, by nearly 1

00%, with 600 cases and 360 deaths. The outbreak in northeastern Congo is particularly difficult to control as it takes place in an active war zone. Attacks on government posts and civilians by dozens of armed militias have hampered the work of the Ebola response teams, which have often had to close down major cases of persecution and isolate people infected with the deadly virus. In recent weeks, violence has escalated near Beni, the urban epicenter in North Kivu province, and the city of Butembo.

The Congolese Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and some non-governmental organizations have been forced to suspend their work to curb Ebola over protests surrounding the presidential election on Sunday. The government has decided at the last minute to exclude the population in Beni and Butembo because of the breakout of the vote. About a dozen US government officials, including Ebola experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are working on the Ebola reaction in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, about 1,000 miles away.

Hospital spokesman Taylor Wilson said the potential for exposure was about a week ago. Wilson said he did not know if the person had received the experimental Ebola vaccine, which has already been given to more than 53,000 people in Congo including health workers.

"This person may have been exposed to the virus, but it is not ill and not contagious," said Ted Cieslak, an infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health. When symptoms develop, the Nebraska team is one of the most skilled in the world to deal with, as the medical center has already had experience with Ebola patients.

The individual is monitored in a safe area that is not accessible to the public or any patients. The surveillance could take up to two weeks, hospital officials said. The Ebola virus can not spread to others if a person shows no signs or symptoms of the disease. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, diarrhea and unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms can occur between 2 and 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days.

The virus spreads through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who is ill or has died of the disease and objects that are contaminated with bodily fluids from a sick or dead person. It can also be spread by seeds from a man who has recovered from the diseases.

Although this person is not officially a patient, hospital staff said that they will respect the person's request for privacy while the person is in the hospital. The hospital also said there will be no information about the status of the person if the person does not need to be transferred to the special biocontainment unit.

Nebraska Medicine treated three patients with Ebola during the Ebola epidemic, which affected Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea from 2014 to 2016. In 2015, several others were monitored for exposures none of which developed the disease. The Nebraska Medical Center is one of the few places in the United States that has its own biocontainment unit.

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