DES MOINES, Iowa -The Iowa Department of Public Health says 13 Iowans who recently traveled to West Africa may have been exposed to Ebola. Of those, 12 individuals are considered low risk. Another person with a higher risk of exposure has been ordered to remain at home.
According to IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patty Quinlisk, none of the individuals are symptomatic but will undergo a 21 day monitoring period. All individuals are required to take their temperature twice a day, the person in quarantine is required to take his or her temperature in the presence of health care worker.
“We are asking those people to monitor themselves for any symptoms, primarily fever that could be consistent with Ebola and report to use twice a day meanwhile we let them go back to their daily activities,” says Quinlisk. “If they don’t call us when they are supposed to, we call them and ask them why they didn’t but all of these people are being fully cooperative and are doing exactly what we are asking them to do.”
The CDC notified the state of the travelers as they passed through one of the five nation’s major international airport who were on their way to Iowa. All the individuals were traveling from the three West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
If the individuals did contract the virus, Unity Point hospitals and clinics say they are prepared to handle anyone who may contract the virus.
“We’ve been doing extensive training over the past several weeks as a far as training our staff and preparations,” says Dr. Mark Purtle.
Staff is not required to partake in the training but a spokesperson for the hospital says the majority of staff is involved. Purtle says staff train on safety and screening protocols for 45 minutes daily. The hospital has also assembled a special team which will only care for Ebola patients' extensive treatment.
“We are developing what we call a special response team who receives additional training who will take care of the patients until they are healthy.”
The team is made up of 20 staff members from various sections of the hospitals.
The Iowa Department of Public Health is not releasing the names or where the individuals live in Iowa who are being monitored because of privacy laws.