PORTLAND, Pray. – Four people are being monitored by Oregon public health officials after potentially being exposed to Ebola during a recent visit to Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a press release from the Oregon Health Authority.
West African countries are currently experiencing an Ebola outbreak, but health officials believe the four people who recently returned to the United States are considered low risk.
“We want to make sure these people have the support they need to manage their health, stay in contact with public health officials, and get safe help with medical services if it comes down to it,” said Dr. Richard Leman, Chief Medical Officer. of health. safety, preparedness and response in the OHA Division of Public Health.
The Ebola virus is very contagious and can be contracted through bodily 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 between 2 and 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. The course of the disease generally progresses from initially ‘dry’ symptoms (such as fever, aches and pains, and fatigue), and then progresses to ‘wet’ symptoms (such as diarrhea and vomiting) as the person becomes ill, “according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While Ebola is rare, if not treated quickly, it is deadly.
There are currently 18 active cases of Ebola in Guinea to date, according to World Health Organization emergency chief Dr. Michael Ryan. The recent cases are believed to have been caused by a survivor of the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014.
Ryan said that a small proportion of people end up being carriers of the virus, but do not infect others “except in very special circumstances.”
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WHO has shipped more than 30,000 doses of vaccines to Guinea and shipments of vaccines and additional therapeutic support were on their way to the DCR. The Ebola outbreak that swept through West Africa between 2014 and 2016 killed more than 11,000 people. “More studies will be needed,” Ryan said. But he added that based on available genetic sequencing data, the current outbreak is unlikely to be related to an animal, which is how nearly all previous Ebola epidemics have started.
“(This) is much more likely to be related to the persistence (of the virus) or the latency of infection in a human.” Ryan said it would probably be the longest period of time that a virus has persisted between outbreaks.
In February, the DRC’s health ministry declared its twelfth 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, the CDC has required all airlines to provide contact information for all US-bound travelers who have been to Guinea or the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the past 21 days, the longest known incubation period for Ebola, “according to the news. release.
The CDC also issued a Level 3 travel advisory for both countries, discouraging any nonessential travel.
Associated Press contributed to this report.