The next wave? More than 60 travelers being monitored for Ebola in three states
03/31/2021 // Ramon Tomey // Views

More than 60 travelers in three states are currently being monitored for possible infection with the Ebola virus. Twenty-three individuals in Washington state are under observation for the pathogen, alongside 45 people in Ohio and four in Oregon.

Despite ongoing observation of these people, health authorities have insisted that the risk of Ebola entering the country is "extremely low."

A March 25 statement by the Washington Department of Health (DOH) said the 23 "low-risk individuals" came from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some regions in the two countries, both located in West Africa, are currently experiencing Ebola outbreaks. It added that local public health officials in the state have been in contact with the 23 people, who will be observed for 21 days following their arrival into the country.

Meanwhile, the Columbus Dispatch reported on March 26 that 45 people in Ohio are currently being observed for Ebola symptoms. According to their respective spokespersons, Columbus Public Health is helping monitor 42 individuals, while Franklin County Public Health is keeping tabs on three people. Franklin County Public Health spokeswoman Mitzi Kline told the outlet through an email that monitoring people who have traveled to outbreak-stricken areas is "common practice." She added: "This isn't the first time we have monitored like this. It is a public health prevention measure to assure we prevent local cases."

Also on March 25, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said four people in the state are being monitored for the disease. Local NBC affiliate KGW 8 reported that the state's health agency did not say where the monitored individuals are located. OHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Leman said: "We want to make sure these individuals have the support they need to monitor their health, stay in contact with public health officials and safely get help with medical services if it comes to that."


Despite the cases being monitored, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reassured Americans that there is little to no chance of an Ebola outbreak in the country. It said in a February 2020 press release that "the risk of Ebola [coming] to the U.S. is extremely low." The CDC also added that it is "closely following the outbreaks of Ebola" in the affected countries, committing to collaborate with the said nations "to end these outbreaks before they grow into epidemics."

Ebola is resurging in West Africa, concurrent with the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic

The three states monitoring recently-arrived travelers followed a shocking discovery by scientists. According to researchers, the latest Ebola outbreak may have been caused by an individual who contracted the pathogen some years ago. A comparison of the most recent virus and the earlier variant found that their genetic sequences were "remarkably similar." (Related: Ebola survivor infected five years ago may have started new outbreak in Guinea.)

Based on the discovery, it would mean that the latest outbreak of the virus did not come from animal to human transmission. Rather, it would appear that it hid in a "persistently infected survivor" of the earlier Ebola epidemic which occurred from 2013 to 2016.

World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Executive Director Dr. Michael Ryan branded the findings as "scary" and said they suggested the infection could lie dormant for years and transmit itself through sexual intercourse. While scientists have long known that Ebola can persist in bodily fluids, it is highly unusual for it to remain undetected for such a period. (Related: If Ebola remains in semen of infected men, why were male Ebola victims in US 'cleared' as virus-free?)

At least 18 cases and nine fatalities related to Ebola have been reported in Guinea as of writing. However, WHO officials said further testing would be needed and drawing conclusions about the actual cause of the outbreak is too premature. On the other hand, the last confirmed Ebola cases in the U.S. arrived during the earlier epidemic, where 11 people received treatment. Most of these involved people who had contracted the virus outside American soil.

Visit to read more about the recent resurgence of Ebola in West Africa.

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