Only those at high-risk of Ebola to be quarantined

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that health-care workers and other residents returning from West Africa won’t be quarantined in Texas if they have no symptoms of Ebola and aren’t considered high risk, as suggested by a task force he assembled to advise Texas on its response to the deadly virus.

Individuals could be considered high risk if, for example, they have been exposed to the blood or body fluids of a Ebola victim showing symptoms while wearing no protective gear. Those in that category would be instructed to stay at home while they are monitored for 21 days with twice daily temperature checks.

Perry said he directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to begin implementing the task force’s guidelines. Texas Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey said the recommendations are “based on science and on doing what’s right for the people of Texas and for the health care workers who travel abroad to fight this disease.”

Perry created the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response after the state became the first in the U.S. where a case of Ebola was diagnosed. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, had traveled from Liberia to Texas and died at a Dallas hospital Oct. 8. Two nurses who treated Duncan contracted Ebola and hospitalized, and later declared virus-free.

About 350 people in Texas have been or are being monitored after coming in contact with those three patients, disease specimens or potentially contaminated surfaces. That number also includes Texans who flew on a plane with one of the nurses.

As of Tuesday, about 45 people were still being monitored in Texas for Ebola. The last day of monitoring in the state in connection to those three cases will be Friday.

The task force’s guidelines for health care workers and others returning to Texas from Ebola-ravaged areas in West Africa recommend four risk levels for those with no symptoms: high risk, some risk, low risk and no-identifiable risk. Anyone returning with symptoms would be immediately isolated.

The some-risk category could include those who had direct contact with a symptomatic Ebola patient while wearing protective gear. In addition to the temperature checks, those people will be instructed to avoid public transportation and large gatherings during their monitoring period. Health care workers aren’t allowed to care for patients.

Low risk includes having brief direct contact with an infected person before to the individual displayed symptoms. Those people will just need to have temperature checks twice a day.

No monitoring will be required for those in the no-identifiable risk category, which includes contact with a person showing no symptoms who had contact with an Ebola patient.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for those returning from West Africa, and various states have put in place their own guidelines.

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