U.S. Residents Back From Ebola-Affected Areas to Be Tracked

Travelers will have to take own temperatures, report to local health officials for 21-day incubation period

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Public health officials plan to actively monitor all U.S. residents returning home from one of the three Ebola-affected nations in West Africa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

The new monitoring program, which starts Monday, will require anyone back from Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone to check their temperature twice a day and report back daily to their local public health department, CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., said in a Wednesday press conference. "State and local authorities will require travelers to report their temperature, and the presence or absence of Ebola symptoms aside from a fever," he said. "They also will be required to coordinate with local public health officials if they intend to travel, and make arrangements to have their temperature monitored during travel."

The monitoring program will concentrate on six states where 70 percent of U.S. travelers to the West African countries reside -- New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia. The CDC will reach out to public health officials in other states as necessary. Returning travelers will be required to provide detailed contact information, including e-mail addresses, home addresses, and contact information for a friend or relative. The travelers also will be handed a care kit that includes a thermometer, a tracking log, a pictorial description of symptoms, a colored card they can present to health care providers if they are ill, and information on where to call and what to say if they develop symptoms, Frieden said.

Experts say 21 days is the longest it can take for Ebola to develop in a person. The new program is intended to make sure that a person with Ebola is isolated early in the course of their illness, Frieden explained. "That will reduce the chance that Ebola will spread to close contacts and health care workers."

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