PORTLAND, Ore. According to a press release from the Oregon Health Authority, four people are being monitored by Oregon public health officials after they may have been exposed to Ebola during a recent visit to Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
West African countries are currently facing an Ebola outbreak, but health officials believe the four people who recently returned to the United States are considered low risk.
“We want to ensure that these individuals receive the support they need to monitor their health, stay in touch with public health officials, and in that case receive safe assistance from medical services,” said Dr. Richard Leman, Chief Medical Officer for Health. safety, preparedness and response at the OHA Public Health Division.
The Ebola virus is highly contagious and can be contracted through body fluids such as vomit, blood or semen.
FILE – Colored scanning electron micrograph of a single filamentous Ebola virus particle.
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“Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. The course of the disease usually starts from ‘dry’ symptoms (such as fever, pain and fatigue)., and then develops into “wet” symptoms (such as diarrhea and vomiting) as the person gets sicker, “said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While Ebola is rare, it is deadly if not treated quickly.
According to the World Health Organization’s Chief of Emergency Situations, Dr. Michael Ryan, there are currently 18 active cases of Ebola in Guinea. The recent cases are believed to have been caused by a survivor of the devastating West African Ebola epidemic in 2014.
Ryan said that a small proportion of people carry the virus, but are not contagious to others “except in very special circumstances.”
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The WHO has sent more than 30,000 doses of vaccine to Guinea and shipments of vaccines and additional therapeutic support were en route to DCR. The Ebola outbreak that engulfed West Africa from 2014 to 2016 ultimately killed more than 11,000 people. “More studies will be needed,” said Ryan. But he added that based on the available genetic sequence data, it was unlikely that the current outbreak was related to an animal – which is how nearly all previous Ebola epidemics started.
“(This) is much more likely linked to persistence (of virus) or latency of infection in a human.” Ryan said this would likely be the longest period a virus has ever existed between outbreaks.
In February, the Ministry of Health in DRC declared the 12th Ebola outbreak in the Biena Health Zone, North Kivu Province, according to the CDC.
So far, 12 Ebola cases and six Ebola-related deaths have been reported in DCR.
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As of March 4, CDC has required all airlines to provide contact information for all travelers to the US who have been in Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past 21 days – the largest known incubation period for Ebola, the news said. release.
The CDC has also issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for both countries, discouraging non-essential travel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.