FEARS of a possible Ebola “outbreak” in Washington and Oregon are growing as 27 people who recently traveled from West Africa are being monitored.
The individuals had just returned from areas of Guinea and Democratic Republic of the Congo which are currently experiencing outbreaks of Ebola virus disease.
The Department of Health said on Thursday in a news release that officials believe the individuals are at low risk.
Local public health officials in Washington have been in contact with the 23 people, who are considered "persons under monitoring" for 21 days after arriving in the United States.
Another four people in Oregon are also being monitored.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 21 days of arriving in the United States.
Once those travelers arrive, public health officials are notified and conduct health monitoring and other public health follow-up.
The risk of getting Ebola in the United States is very low, according to the Department of Health.
It's a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates that can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or person.
The news comes just days after scientists said that the world's latest Ebola virus outbreak may have been caused by a person who was infected over seven years ago.
Top World Health Organization boss Mike Ryan said the "scary" new findings suggested the infection could remain for years and can be transmitted through sex .
Scientists compared the genetic sequence of the most recent virus with one from seven years ago – and found they were remarkably similar.
The bombshell findings mean the virus did not transmit from animals to humans as was previously thought, and were in fact hidden in a "persistently infected survivor" of the 2013-16 epidemic.
At least 18 Ebola cases and nine deaths been reported amid a resurgence of the deadly virus in Guineau in West Africa.
The disease, first discovered along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, has killed thousands of people in Guineau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
But WHO officials said it is too early to draw conclusions about the cause of the outbreak – and further testing would be needed.
Scientists have long known that Ebola can persist in fluids such as semen, but it is highly unusual for a virus to lie undetected for so long.
Dr Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, said on Twitter: "Based on the known mutation rate of (Ebola virus), we'd expect viruses that have been replicating for five to seven years, even at low levels, to have many more mutations.
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"Like hundreds. These have 12. This is also genuinely shocking to me scientifically…
"I have no idea how this happens mechanistically and it just goes to show how much we still have to learn about Ebola."
Dr Rasmussen called for increased vaccination for those in communities affected by Ebola to prevent further outbreaks.
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