CDC: Travelers from West Africa to undergo 21-day monitoring for Ebola
The CDC is implementing active monitoring of all travelers returning to the United States from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to quickly identify people with fever or symptoms of Ebola.
The 21-day post-arrival monitoring will begin Monday in six states where approximately 70% of the incoming travelers are bound: Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“The strongest public health measure against Ebola is to quickly isolate patients who have symptoms,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said during a media briefing. “These new measures will give additional levels of safety so that patients who develop symptoms are isolated early, and reduce the chance that Ebola will spread from an ill person to close contacts and health care workers.”
State and local health officials in the six states will work with the CDC to actively monitor the arrivals, who will be required to report their temperature daily and the presence or absence of Ebola symptoms. If the individuals do not report in, the officials will take immediate steps to find the individuals, who will be required to provide extensive contact information upon entering the United States. Arrivals also will receive a kit that includes a tracking log, a description of symptoms, a thermometer and information on who to contact if they develop symptoms.
The monitoring is one more level of protection to prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States and protect Americans, Frieden said. Currently, travelers leaving Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone undergo exit screening for fever, symptoms or contact with Ebola, and earlier this month, five US airports also began performing entry screening on passengers whose travel originated in those countries.
The five airports — New York’s JFK, Newark, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta — receive more than 94% of the travelers from the three West African countries. This week the Department of Homeland Security mandated all travelers from these countries be directed through one of those five airports.
“We can’t get to zero risk here until we stop the outbreak in West Africa,” Frieden said. “We’re seeing progress, but we have to keep our guard up.”