Unprecedented: U.S. troops assisting in Ebola mission may be quarantined

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U.S. Marines from the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crises Response 14-2 get their temperature checked as they exit a KC-130.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — In an unprecedented move to protect U.S. troops that might be exposed to Ebola, U.S. military commanders are being given the authority to quarantine troops for 21 days at a Defense Department facility where they will be monitored for signs of the disease and treated if they do contract the virus, a Defense Department memo explained.

The memo, which was obtained by CNN, spells out the details of the military’s plan for the first time.

It does not reveal the location of the facility, but one U.S. official said it may be a site in the Washington, D.C. area. The quarantine will apply to troops evacuated from West Africa, if it is determined they have an elevated risk of exposure to Ebola.

There are more than 500 troops in the region currently, and the Pentagon has authorized the deployment of up to 4,000 to assist in fighting the virus. Troops are not expected to treat Ebola patients, but there is an acknowledgment by the Pentagon that some could be at risk of coming into contact with the virus.

The October 10 memo spells out precise procedures for monitoring troops’ exposure and how any problems will be dealt with. During the entire time troops are in West Africa, they may be monitored for fever or any symptoms of Ebola. If a service member comes into contact with blood or body fluids from an Ebola patient, or a dead body, while not wearing protective gear, or if the gear is compromised, they will be evacuated from the region and quarantined.

Commanders also will be given the authority to isolate their entire unit in the region for the final 10 days of a deployment if necessary. All troops will be monitored for 21 days after returning from the mission, the memo says.

6 comments

  • Chris Multerer

    We send 4000 troops to Africa to help fight this deadly virus. That’s just great. Even after they’ve been monitored before they come back here, who’s to say that a number of the soldiers won’t be harbouring the virus. The stupidity of the federal government never ends.

  • JokeEnthusiast

    Chris. “The incubation period [for Ebola], that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days.” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

    So if our soldiers are in quarantine and monitored for that period and don’t develop symptoms, they don’t have the virus.

    Tracy, this virus has killed thousands of people already in West Africa and continues to spread exponentially. This isn’t just a health problem for West Africa, but the whole world (you, me, everyone). Therefore, if we can assist in any way we should. We aren’t the only country helping.

  • Frank

    ANYONE in contact with ANY possible sources of Ebola should be quarantined. This is not the common cold we are talking about! The CDC has FAILED to do this and look what has happened. All because one idiot came to the USA knowing he was infected. Too bad he died. He could have been charged for his ignorance.

  • Semper Fidelis, USMC

    Barry the KING won’t even stop flights / people from there to here, ouchie, sad………could be big problems for us down the road.

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