Health officials in Washington state are monitoring 23 people for Ebola after they returned from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), two West African countries that are currently seeing outbreaks of the dangerous infectious disease.
However, “there is a low risk for people in Washington,” said health officials.
The 23 people will be monitored for roughly 21 days following their arrival to the U.S.
“There is an outbreak of EVD in N’Zérékoré Prefecture of Guinea and the North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued an order requiring airlines to collect and provide CDC with contact information for passengers who were in Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo within the 21 days before arriving in the United States,” they said.
Ebola virus disease is rare but deadly.
“The viruses that cause EVD are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus,” Washington state health officials said.
The Ebola virus is highly contagious and can be contracted through bodily fluids such as vomit, blood or semen. The virus can live in the semen of male survivors for more than three years, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, and health experts say as outbreaks become more frequent, it’s important to understand more about how it’s contracted.
That said, the risk of getting Ebola in the United States is very low, officials stressed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.