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Doctor Possibly Exposed to Ebola Is Now in Nebraska

US doctor was working at a missionary hospital in Democratic Republic of Congo
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2018 5:02 AM CST
In this Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, a health worker feeds a boy suspected of having the Ebola virus at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Eastern Congo.   (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, File)

(Newser) – A US doctor possibly exposed to the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now back in the US. The unidentified 39-year-old treated a "severely ill" patient at a missionary hospital who later tested positive for the deadly virus, Politico reports. A day later, the US physician received the experimental Ebola vaccine. After a week under observation, the doctor was taken via private plane and car from the DRC back to the US and arrived Saturday at the Nebraska Medical Center. He or she is not exhibiting symptoms, but the hemorrhagic fever can spread through direct contact and can incubate for up to three weeks before a person becomes symptomatic. "We are not aware of any other United States citizens with potential exposures to Ebola at this time, and there is no health risk to the US public due to this evacuation," says the CDC.

"This person may have been exposed to the virus but is not ill and is not contagious," adds Ted Cieslak, an infectious diseases specialist at the medical center, which has treated Ebola patients in the past. "Should any symptoms develop, the Nebraska Medicine/UNMC team is among the most qualified in the world to deal with them." If that does occur, the physician, who is being kept under observation in an isolated secure area for up to two weeks, will be transferred to a biocontainment unit. The Ebola outbreak in the DRC (which is taking place in an active war zone, thus complicating the relief efforts) is the second-largest on record and has killed 360 people so far, the Washington Post reports. The largest-ever outbreak, which started in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia in 2014, killed more than 11,000. (The DRC outbreak could be uncontainable.)

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