Public health officials are monitoring four people who recently returned to Oregon for signs they may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.
The state isn’t saying who the travelers are or where they’re staying, to protect their privacy. But the four unrelated individuals returned earlier this month from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Guinea — two West African nations that have seen limited outbreaks of Ebola since February.
Dr. Richard Leman, with the Oregon Health Authority, said the threat level to Oregonians is low.
“This is not a big deal,” Leman said. “Public health is basically taking steps to keep it that way.”
Similar monitoring precautions were taken during outbreaks in 2014, 2015 and 2019, and so far there has never been a case of Ebola in Oregon.
”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,” he said.
The Oregon Health Authority and local public health departments have been in contact with the individuals since they arrived. The aim is to determine their risk, if any, of spreading Ebola and to ensure the people’s safety and the safety of the community.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control began tracking airline arrival information into the United States from the two West African nations.
While Oregon is not saying what the four individuals were doing in West Africa, Leman said typical visitors there from Oregon include those working for non-governmental organizations, volunteers and families traveling to see each other.
Unlike COVID-19, which can be passed in water droplets from an infected person, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids. The incubation period is 21 days.
As of March 24, Guinea has reported 18 Ebola cases and nine Ebola-related deaths. The Guinea outbreak is centered in Nzérékoré Prefecture, which is in the southern region of the country near the Liberian border.
Leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have reported 12 Ebola cases and six Ebola-related deaths. The outbreak is in North Kivu Province, which is in the eastern part of the country near the Ugandan border.
The two outbreaks are limited to small areas of each country and are not in large population centers.