Four American health care providers from Sierra Leone will be coming to Nebraska for observation.
All four have been exposed to the Ebola virus and might have had contact with the patient now being treated for Ebola at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
None of the workers have displayed symptoms of the deadly disease.
The health care workers will be placed in quarantine once they arrive at Nebraska Medicine-Nebraska Medical Center for observation. A joint effort by Nebraska Medicine and the Douglas County Health Department, supported by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will monitor the workers.
“These people have been exposed to the virus but they aren’t sick and aren’t contagious,” Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medicine said in a statement released by Nebraska Medicine. “In the unlikely instance that one of them does develop symptoms, we would take them to the Biocontainment Unit immediately for evaluation and treatment. Because we have individuals to monitor simultaneously, the safest and most efficient way to do that is in a group setting.”
Smith, also a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says there is no need at this time to contain the workers in the Biocontainment Unit.
“The unit needs to be reserved for patients who have been found to have Ebola,” Smith said. “There would be no reason for this particular group of people to be there since none of them are displaying symptoms of Ebola.”
“Nebraska is now a national epicenter for Ebola care and with that comes responsibility,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in a written statement. “It’s not surprising that people with a possible Ebola exposure would want to be near a biocontainment unit undergoing monitoring in a controlled and safe environment.”
Nebraska Medicine has treated three Ebola patients. Dr. Richard Sacra was treated and released in September 2014 and NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo was treated and released in October 2014. Dr, Martin Salia came to Nebraska gravely ill. He died after less than two days of treatment in November of last year. Two other patients came to Omaha for observation. Neither developed Ebola.