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Doctor monitoring himself for Ebola upon return

Lisa Pemberton The Olympian

A Thurston County resident who returned from spending three weeks in Liberia and didn’t come in contact with anyone with Ebola has agreed to self-monitor for fever and other symptoms of the disease and work closely with health officials, according to a Thurston County news release.

The man, a physician, has agreed to limit social activity. He has a child attending Capital High School and one attending Marshall Middle School; on Friday afternoon, the Olympia School District contacted families in those schools to let them know about precautions being taken.

“He’s a physician in infectious disease control, so he understands what the risks are,” Don Sloma, director of Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, told The Olympian. “He’s not interested in creating any unnecessary fear.”

The resident, whose identity was not released, volunteered in Liberia and trained health professionals in infection control procedures at clinics that were not treating Ebola patients.

“Because the individual had limited physical contact with anyone while in Liberia and was not exposed to Ebola patients, there is ‘no known risk’ of Ebola,” the news release stated. “However, the person has voluntarily agreed to take time off from work, and monitor and report their temperature twice a day for 21 days – the maximum incubation period for the Ebola virus.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently enacted protocols for travelers returning from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone that call for notifying health officials in the state where the traveler lives. When the Thurston County resident arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, CDC screening determined that the traveler presented “no known risk” of harboring the disease, the news release stated. CDC notified the Washington state Department of Health, which in turn contacted Thurston County Public Health officials.

Thurston County Public Health officials are conducting routine monitoring and follow-up of the physician who returned from Liberia; those steps are being taken for all travelers returning from Ebola-stricken countries, county officials said.

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