American doctor will be monitored in US after possible exposure to Ebola in Congo

Posted at 9:15 AM, Dec 30, 2018

An American was possibly exposed to Ebola while recently providing medical assistance in Congo, according to a release from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.

The person, who has not been identified, is headed to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for monitoring, the release states, adding the Nebraska Medical Center is home to one of the nation's few dedicated biocontainment units.

"This person may have been exposed to the virus but is not ill and is not contagious," said Ted Cieslak, infectious diseases specialist with Nebraska Medicine and associate professor of epidemiology in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. "Should any symptoms develop, the Nebraska Medicine/UNMC team is among the most qualified in the world to deal with them."

The Democratic Republic of Congo is going through one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history. The outbreak began August 1 and has left more than 300 people dead, with 545 confirmed cases recorded as of Saturday, according to the country's health ministry. Another 48 cases are considered probable.

The World Health Organization said protests in Congo over election delays and a deteriorating security situation are interfering with their field teams' ability to carry out Ebola vaccinations in some areas.

The American, the Nebraska release states, is not an official patient and is being taken privately to the medical center. Federal, state and county public health officials plan to monitor the person in a secure area not accessible by the public or any patients. Monitoring could take as long as two weeks, the release states.

No updates will be given on the person's status during the monitoring period unless needed, the release also states. If it is necessary, though, the individual will be transferred to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, where regular updates will be provided.

This isn't the first time possible Ebola patients were treated at the Nebraska Medical Center. Nebraska Medicine treated three patients with Ebola in 2014. In 2015, five Americans were monitored at the center after being exposed to the virus in West Africa, but none developed the disease.