An American doctor assisting medical staff in Congo has returned to the United States under concern of exposure to the Ebola virus.
According to a press release from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, the potential patient, who has not been identified, is under observation at Nebraska Medical Center. Why this particular hospital? Well, it just so happens that Nebraska Medical Center has one of only a handful of dedicated biocontainment units in all of the United States.
Nebraska Medicine infectious disease specialist Ted Cieslak assures that this unnamed person is being admitted to the clinic because they may have been exposed to the dangerous virus even though they are not currently ill and are not contagious. However, the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health associate professor of epidemiology does advise “Should any symptoms develop, the Nebraska Medicine/UNMC team is among the most qualified in the world to deal with them.”
As you probably already know, the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently experiencing one of the worst—read: deadliest—outbreaks of the Ebola virus in all of human history. This outbreak began on August 1stof this year and has already claimed 300 lives with a total of 545 confirmed cases reported by the DRC health ministry as of December 29. Apparently there may also be another 48 cases under consideration.
In the UNMC release, officials comment that the American who is being transported is not officially a patient. He is being taken privately to the medical center where federal, state, and county public health officials will monitor them in a secure area that cannot be accessed by the public or any other patients.
This monitoring period could take up to two weeks. During this time, no updates will be provided unless it is absolutely necessary, according to the release. However, if the situation requires, the unnamed person will be transported again to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, where officials will release updates as progress continues.
UNMC is actually a common place to send Americans who have been suspected for exposure to Ebola. In 2014, three patients were treated for Ebola at UNMC. In 2015, another five Americans were monitored at UNMC after they were exposed to the virus in West Africa, even though none had developed the disease.