Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Emerging Threats | Ebola | West Africa | troops | quarantine

Troops on Ebola Mission in Africa Risk Quarantine

Troops on Ebola Mission in Africa Risk Quarantine
U.S. Marines arrive as part of Operation United Assistance in Monrovia Liberia. (John Moore/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 16 October 2014 01:44 PM

The troops that are being deployed to West Africa to help combat Ebola may end up being quarantined if military commanders determine they experienced a high risk of exposure to the deadly virus.

According to memo obtained by CNN, the forces would be put in a Defense Department facility for 21 days to be monitored for signs of infection, and treated if they do contract Ebola.

Details of the whereabouts of the location have not been disclosed, but one official told CNN that the site may be in the Washington, D.C., area.

The memo details specific procedures for monitoring personnel who are exposed to the virus, along with plans for how any problems will be managed. Throughout their deployment, the troops are expected to be monitored for symptoms of the virus, including fevers.

If a service member comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of someone who is infected or died from the disease while not wearing protective gear, the person will be evacuated and quarantined, according to CNN.

Commanders are also being granted the authority to isolate an entire unit in the region for the last 10 days of its mission, if deemed necessary. And all troops that were deployed in the operation will be monitored for 21 days after returning to the United States.

President Barack Obama announced in September that he would be sending roughly 3,000 troops to help lead an international effort to stop the virus' spread in West Africa.

More than 500 troops are already in the region, according to CNN, and the Pentagon has since authorized the deployment of up to 4,000 troops.

American military personnel will focus on distributing sanitation kits to affected areas, delivering body bags to bury victims, and will assist in the building of treatment facilities.

The troops are not expected to treat Ebola patients, but there is an acknowledgment by the Pentagon that some could be at risk of exposure to the virus, CNN reported.

Questions have been raised about the wisdom and effectiveness of sending troops to combat the spread of the virus.

Dr. Lee Hieb, Iowa's Libertarian candidate for governor, told Newsmax TV she had significant concerns about the possibility of military personnel contracting the disease given they don't have medical training, and particularly since it has been contracted even by well-trained medical professionals — American doctor Kent Brantly and Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos.
 
She also questioned the military's role in managing the epidemic.

"Really, how are we going to use these troops? Do we really need troops to hand out gloves and to be involved in actual patient care? I don't think so," said Hieb. "Are we going to use these troops to provide a 'cordon sanitaire,' where they're just going to keep people from moving from Point A to Point B, in which case, are we going to be in a position where our troops are going to have to fire on civilians?

"This is a horrible scenario," Hieb said.

Meanwhile, there is little public support for sending American troops to fight Ebola.

A poll released last month showed that a majority of Americans, 55 percent, think the U.S. military is overstretched these days, but believe deploying troops to stop illegal immigration is a better use of forces than sending them to fight the spread of Ebola in Africa. 

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The troops that are being deployed to West Africa to help combat Ebola may end up being quarantined if military commanders determine they experienced a high risk of exposure to the deadly virus.
Ebola, West Africa, troops, quarantine
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2014-44-16
Thursday, 16 October 2014 01:44 PM
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