A person in Pierce County who traveled from a West African country affected by Ebola is being monitored daily “as part of our new normal” procedure nationally, the local health department said Thursday.
The adult is healthy and has shown no symptoms of the disease, said Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers. The monitoring is precautionary, given the deadly outbreak of the disease in West Africa, she said.
The agency has no reason to believe the person will become sick, Jeffers said.
“This is a low-risk situation that we have currently,” she said. “We’re having no problems, no issues with cooperation.”
Jeffers declined to give the person’s gender or where in the county he or she is living, citing privacy concerns.
The monitoring is consistent with guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday for tracking the health of all people traveling to the United States from West Africa.
In King County, a Seattle-area nurse is being monitored for possible Ebola infection after she returned to the United States from Africa, where she had treated patients with the disease.
The nurse has shown no sign of the disease and is voluntarily restricting her movements to minimize the risk to others, health officials said.
She will be monitored through the disease’s 21-day incubation period, said Dr. Jeff Duchin, communicable-disease chief for Public Health-Seattle and King County.
About 80 people a day have been traveling to the U.S. from countries affected by Ebola, The Washington Post reported.
The national program to monitor those travelers starts Monday in the six states where a majority of those people arrive (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia), the CDC said, and will begin in other states in the following days.
That’s not to say that states can’t and won’t start such procedures earlier, such as Washington did.
“There’s no reason at all to wait,” Jeffers said.
The CDC contacted the state Department of Health about the Pierce County traveler, and that agency contacted the local health department late Wednesday.
The monitoring entails at least daily phone calls between the person and a health worker, and having the person report his or her temperature from home until the end of the potential 21-day incubation period for the disease, Jeffers said.
The person’s day-to-day activities are not restricted, except that he or she is asked to not to travel out of the area using long-distance transportation methods such as planes or trains.
If the person’s temperature rises above 100.4 degrees or if there is a change in his or her health, the person would be taken to a hospital, Jeffers said.
She didn’t immediately know which country the person had traveled from.
The Seattle Times contributed to this report.