US health worker home after 'low-risk' Ebola exposure

AFP
Medical workers and protective gear at an Ebola treatment facility in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, on August 14, 2014
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Medical workers and protective gear at an Ebola treatment facility in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, on August 14, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

Washington (AFP) - A health worker with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has returned to the United States after possible exposure to Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, the agency said Wednesday.

The CDC downplayed the risk of infection, describing the person's contact with another infected health worker as "low-risk" and saying the CDC staffer was not showing symptoms.

"CDC has returned a staff member from West Africa by charter flight after the employee had low-risk contact with an international health worker who recently tested positive for Ebola," said a statement.

"The CDC staff member worked in close proximity (within three feet (one meter)) in the same room with the ill person for a prolonged period when that individual had symptoms."

The CDC did not say whether the staffer was male or female.

West Africa is in the midst of the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.

More than 1,400 people have been killed by the hemorrhagic virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria since the start of the year.

"The CDC staff person is not sick with Ebola, does not show symptoms of the disease and, therefore, poses no Ebola-related risk to friends, family, co-workers, or the public," the statement said.

"The exposed staff person is not restricted to staying at home and could return to assigned work duties at CDC during the 21-day period of symptom monitoring."

Ebola has an incubation period of three weeks, though symptoms typically appear within two to 10 days of infection.

The virus causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and internal bleeding. It has been fatal in just over half of cases in the current outbreak.

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