CT policies for travelers from West Africa detailed: ‘Erring on the side of caution’

State officials have outlined how the state is monitoring the health of any individual returning to Connecticut after traveling from one of the three West African countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak.

State officials said Connecticut’s policies are more stringent than U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements and involve mandatory active monitoring for all travelers from three countries, and possible quarantine for individuals based on risk factors.

Final determinations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, Connecticut officials said.

Eight people in quarantine in CT

Earlier this month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the state was utilizing its authority under the order signed by Malloy granting the state Department of Public Health (DPH) commissioner the discretion to quarantine people who have met the threshold for such action.

As of last week, the department has issued four quarantine orders in the state involving nine people.

An order involving one person has been rescinded based on a review of additional information related to travel activities. So currently there are eight people in quarantine in Connecticut.

Malloy: ‘Err on the side of caution’

“With the news of a recent traveler with Ebola in neighboring New York, it is critical that we look at each case on an individual basis,” Malloy said.

“The protocols outlined here will ensure that we have the ability to take preventative action that will protect public health, utilizing the best information we have and the expertise of our public health officials,” he said. “DPH will continue to err on the side of caution in each and every circumstance.”

Mandatory monitoring for 21 days

Under these protocols, DPH is working with federal authorities and is being notified of travelers arriving in Connecticut from the three West African countries impacted by the Ebola virus: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

All such travelers will be subject to 21 days of active mandatory monitoring, and DPH will review each case and determine if additional steps beyond monitoring are necessary based upon a review of the person’s travel history and potential exposure.

Under active monitoring, local health directors contact individuals daily to obtain their temperatures and determine whether they have developed any symptoms of illness.

Travelers interviewed by staff

Discussing the state’s procedures, DPH Commissioner Jewel Mullen said, “Once the traveler has arrived in Connecticut, they are interviewed by local health department staff or by an epidemiologist from the Connecticut DPH.

Detailed information is obtained by these public health officials about the person’s travel and whether they potentially could have been exposed to Ebola.

“Epidemiological experts at DPH assess this information, including the quality of the information collected,” Dr. Mullen said. “We then discuss, and decide on the appropriate steps to protect the public’s health — erring always on the side of caution.”

Kept away from other people

If Mullen deems it necessary based on information gathered during the screening process, a quarantine will be required.

Under these guidelines, an individual held under quarantine is not sick, but is kept away from other people because they may have been exposed to an infectious or contagious disease.

The state’s isolation procedure will be implemented once a person is exhibiting symptoms, so that further infection of other people can be prevented.

For more information, go to the state’s Ebola website, www.ct.gov/ebola.

— as edited by Brad Durrell for the Shelton Herald