Homeland Security, Senate panel briefed on Ebola efforts

A statement was given to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Monday from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Office of Health Affairs (OHA) regarding the handling of Ebola in the U.S.

The agencies said that while the current outbreak in West Africa is the most severe in history, they reminded the attendees that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already has said the risk for a domestic outbreak is very low.

Both CBP and the CDC have coordinated on the creation of policies and procedures to identify travelers who may show signs of a communicable disease. As common practice, CBP officers monitor travelers in the country for signs of illness at all entrance points. If a passenger is found to have signs of a disease, he or she is taken to CDC quarantine facilities. They also have worked with the affected countries in making sure outbound passengers are thoroughly screened before they are allowed to take off.

They also said that recently, the U.S. saw its first domestic contractions of the virus, but the health systems were effective at providing the supportive care necessary for patients.

To make it easier, all incoming flights from affected areas were taken to one of five airports where passengers from West African countries undergo extensive screenings to make sure that they are free of the virus or other illnesses. Educational measures also have been implemented so that officials know how to respond in case of infection.

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