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Health officials have monitored 5 West Africa travelers in Utah

Health officials have monitored 5 West Africa travelers in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Health officials are continuing to monitor three individuals who have returned to Utah from travel in Ebola-stricken areas of West Africa.

Five people have been monitored in the state, including two who have completed the 21-day incubation period for the disease without presenting symptoms, according to Utah epidemiologist Dr. Allyn Nakashima.

She said the tracking program, set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is beneficial because "it allows us to know where most of the people will be if we have it in our communities … and to get them into care early."

Nakashima told the state's legislative Health and Human Services Interim Committee on Wednesday that hospitals and clinics in Utah are working to be prepared for receiving patients in the case that Ebola is detected locally after travel to the countries where it originated.

Federal guidelines route travelers from any of four West African nations — Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali — where Ebola fever is widespread, through one of five international airports where they are repeatedly screened and given instructions on the 21-day incubation and monitoring period.

Patients visiting local emergency departments and urgent care clinics are also being asked about their recent travels if they arrive with symptoms including a fever, Nakashima said.

"Many health care providers and hospitals are screening every person who comes to the emergency room," she said. "They are asking about travel history right off the bat, then asking about symptoms if travel history involves West Africa."

The Ebola outbreak, the largest in history, continues to infect people in West African nations, including new cases recently reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than 14,400 cases have been confirmed, while at least 5,170 people have died from the infectious disease, according to the CDC.

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