California To Quarantine People At Risk of Ebola

Responding to the ongoing threat posed by the West African Ebola outbreak, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is establishing statewide protocols for quarantining suspected cases and those at highest risk of contracting and/or spreading the disease. The outbreak has already sickened health care workers in the United States and prompted Australia to completely close its borders to travelers from the hardest hit countries.
CDPH issued guidelines today outlining standard protocols counties to use when addressing suspected cases. The guidelines carry a mandatory quarantine order “for those at highest risk of contracting and spreading Ebola,” CDPH director Dr. Ron Chapman said in a news release announcing the order and guidelines. The quarantine order applies to anyone traveling to California who has traveled from an Ebola affected area and has had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of Ebola. Those travelers will be quarantined for 21 days, which is the typical incubation period for the disease.
The quarantine orders and the level of quarantine will be supervised and issued by local County health officers on a case-by-case basis. Local County health officers already have the legal authority to quarantine individuals who may have an infectious disease that threatens public safety.
CDPH spokeswoman Anita Gore says that federal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) are screening travelers coming into California from the three West African countries at US ports-of-entry. “Through this process, all returning travelers are queried on possible risk exposures and recent history of signs and symptoms of Ebola, and are also checked for fever with a no-touch thermometer.”
The travelers are either released after secondary screening with a kit that has a digital thermometer and fever and symptom log or referred to CDC for additional screening with medical staff.
“The California Department of Public Health receives daily lists from the CDC with contact information for all travelers who were screened through this process and whose final destination is California,” Gore says, noting that CDPH then sends this information “the same day” to the local health department responsible for the traveler’s final destination.
The local health departments are then supposed to actively monitor the individual twice a day for symptoms of Ebola. “Only those that are determined to be high risk due to contact with Ebola cases are issued a quarantine order,” she says.
Gore says CDPH continues to monitor the evolving CDC guidelines to relay the latest information to local health departments and health care providers via its website and direct distribution. “CDPH remains available 24 hours a day to health care providers with questions about potential Ebola patients,” she adds.