A group of 100 soldiers returning to the states from an Ebola-response mission in West Africa arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Friday to begin a mandatory quarantine.
The soldiers belong to the 615th Engineer Company, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. None has shown any symptoms of contracting the Ebola virus, the Army said.
The group spent the past two months in Liberia improving roads so that Liberians and visiting aid workers can have better access to new Ebola treatment facilities, said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Puetz of JBLM’s 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
The soldiers departed Liberia on Jan. 1.
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Lewis-McChord is one of five domestic military installations that is equipped to house troops returning from Ebola-response assignments in Liberia and Senegal. The base has the capacity to host about 1,000 troops in barracks that most recently were used for ROTC cadets.
The Defense Department requires troops who spend extended periods in West Africa to be quarantined when they return home during the virus’ 21-day incubation period.
About 3,000 soldiers started deploying to West Africa in October as the Pentagon sought to build up treatment facilities to stem the deadly virus. The World Health Organization on Friday reported that Ebola killed more than 8,000 West Africans in 2014.
JBLM in November hosted a smaller group of 15 military service members returning from Ebola-related deployments.
The quarantine program is separate from the monitoring of JBLM Air Force personnel who have flown short missions to West Africa. These airmen tend to spend less than a day on the ground and don’t interact with Ebola patients. They are asked to watch themselves for symptoms, but they’re not quarantined and can continue to work their military and civilian jobs.