Washington was considered ground zero for COVID-19 in the U.S., and now 23 travelers from the state are being monitored for another deadly contagious virus: Ebola. Add 4 in Oregon and 40 in Ohio!
The travelers recently returned from the West African countries of Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo — where there are outbreaks of the deadly virus — according to a news release from the state’s Department of Health.
The risk of Ebola coming to the United States remains “extremely low,” according to a news release last month from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.
Likewise, people in Washington are considered “low risk” for getting the virus, the state health department says.
Local public health officials have been in contact with the people who traveled to the African countries. “They are considered ‘persons under monitoring’ for 21 days after their arrival to the United States,” according to the news release.
The CDC ordered airlines to collect and provide contact information for passengers who were in Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo within 21 days before arriving to the U.S., according to the release.
The news comes just days after scientists said that the world’s latest Ebola virus outbreak may have been caused by a person who was infected over seven years ago.
Top World Health Organization boss Mike Ryan said the “scary” new findings suggested the infection could remain for years and can be transmitted through sex.
Scientists compared the genetic sequence of the most recent virus with one from seven years ago – and found they were remarkably similar.
The bombshell findings mean the virus did not transmit from animals to humans as was previously thought, and were in fact hidden in a “persistently infected survivor” of the 2013-16 epidemic.
Ebola cases are rare in the United States
The last confirmed cases in the U.S. came during the 2014-16 epidemic in Africa, when 11 people were treated for the deadly virus in the states. Most of the cases involved people who had contracted the virus outside the U.S., but in 2014 two nurses were infected while caring for an Ebola patient from Liberia in a Dallas hospital.
The man died, but the nurses recovered.
Meanwhile in Africa
At least 18 Ebola cases and nine deaths have been reported amid a resurgence of the deadly virus in Guinea in West Africa.
The disease, first discovered along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, has killed thousands of people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
But WHO officials said it is too early to draw conclusions about the cause of the outbreak – and further testing would be needed.
Scientists have long known that Ebola can persist in fluids such as semen, but it is highly unusual for a virus to lie undetected for so long.
Dr Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, said on Twitter: “Based on the known mutation rate of (Ebola virus), we’d expect viruses that have been replicating for five to seven years, even at low levels, to have many more mutations.” [SacBee, KGW, Dispatch, The Sun]
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