Darien man removed from state's Ebola quarantine list
Published 12:30 pm, Thursday, October 30, 2014
A Darien man has been removed from the state's Ebola quarantine list following a change in the policies regarding quarantine applied to people who have traveled to one of the Ebola-affected nations in West Africa.
The unnamed man was removed from the list after the state Department of Public Health reviewed his case and determined he was not at risk for contracting the disease that has killed several thousand people in Africa and one in the United States, according to David Knauf, the Darien health director.
Knauf was adamant Thursday in underscoring that being under quarantined does not mean a person has Ebola.
"These people aren't sick," he said.
Those in quarantine are being monitored for possible development of the potentially deadly illness and, in that case, to prevent contact with others who might become infected as well.
Currently, there are eight people in Connecticut under quarantine, according to an Oct. 27 statement issued by Gov. Dannel Malloy's office. The statement notes that initially four quarantine orders had been issued for nine people in the state, but "one order involving one person has been rescinded based on a review of additional information related to travel activities," referring to the Darien individual.
According to Knauf, the Darien resident did not work at a hospital or a clinic in Africa, and did not have any direct contact with anyone with the disease while there.
In Connecticut, public health officials can only release identifiable health information if there is a reason to do so, according to an email from Dr. Matthew Carter, director of infectious disease section of the DPH. If information were to be released, Carter said it "should be limited to the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the public health purpose."
This extends to people who are in quarantine. Knauf added that the town would not release information about a quarantine case "case unless there was a public health reason to do that."
"Once the traveler has arrived in Connecticut, they are interviewed by local health department staff or by an epidemiologist from the Connecticut DPH," DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen in the release said in the release about determing whether a person should be quarantined. "Detailed information is obtained by these public health officials about the person's travel and whether they potentially could have been exposed to Ebola. Epidemiological experts at DPH assess this information, including the quality of the information collected. We then discuss, and decide on the appropriate steps to protect the public's health -- erring always on the side of caution."
State health officials could not be reached for additional comment.
Last week, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson issued a release detailing Darien's preparedness should someone in town show symptoms of the disease
Post 53, the local emergency medical service, "is following all state Department of Health recommendations and is being advised by both Stamford and Norwalk hospitals," Stevenson said in news release issued Oct. 24, the day an international-relief physician from New York City was diagnosed with Ebola shortly after his return from Africa. "Protocols are in place for the care and transport of any confirmed or at-risk patients."
The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the worst on record since the discovery of the disease in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the Centers for Disease and Control, there have been 13,703 reported cases of Ebola worldwide this year, with 13.676 in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. As of Oct. 29, there have been 4,910 recorded deaths in the African countries, according to the CDC. There has been only one death in the United States and only four recorded cases, according to the CDC.
"This is a very serious disease," Knauf said. "It's not to be taken lightly, but quarantine does not mean the person has Ebola."
According to the DPH, all travelers from Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia will be subject to a 21-day quarantine, and the DPH will review each case to see if additional steps are needed beyond the necessary monitoring of potential symptoms and body temperature.
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