American who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus in Africa being monitored in Omaha

American who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus in Africa being monitored in Omaha
World-Herald News Service

An American providing medical assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is being monitored in Omaha, a Nebraska Medical Center spokesman said Saturday.

The person has no Ebola symptoms but will be monitored closely, Taylor Wilson said.

“Should any symptoms develop, the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit would be activated and the person admitted,” he said.

The person arrived in Omaha on Saturday afternoon, Wilson said.

The person may have been exposed to the virus but isn’t ill or contagious, said Dr. Ted Cieslak, an infectious diseases specialist at Nebraska Medicine and associate professor of epidemiology in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. If any symptoms develop, he said, the team at the hospital and UNMC “is among the most qualified in the world to deal with them.”

The website Politico described the person as a U.S. physician, but Wilson said that the person has asked for privacy and that he couldn’t say whether the person is a doctor or provide the person’s gender.

The person was transported privately to the Omaha hospital and will be monitored in a secure area not accessible by the public or any patients. Monitoring could last up to two weeks.

The area of the hospital where the person is being monitored was recently remodeled and equipped thanks to a grant from the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Wilson said.

Three patients with Ebola were treated at the med center in 2014. In 2015, several others were monitored after being exposed, but none of them developed the disease.

The World Health Organization said that as of Dec. 26, 591 Ebola cases, including 543 confirmed cases and 48 probable cases, have been reported in two Congolese provinces. Fifty-four of those with the disease were health care workers, 18 of whom have died. Overall, 357 people have died from this outbreak, the organization said.

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