A Vermonter who spent several weeks traveling in Ebola-stricken West Africa is now back in the state, and under monitoring by the Vermont Department of Health, Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., announced Tuesday.
The man is in a secure and secluded location provided by the state, Shumlin told reporters, and is being visited by state medical experts at least twice a day. Those health department staff members are looking for possible symptoms of Ebola. No such symptoms have been detected and the man poses no threat to public health or safety, Shumlin said.
The man agreed to a voluntary 21-day quarantine after returning to the United States via airplane, Shumlin said. He landed at New York City's JFK Airport and was met by law enforcement and health department representatives, who were aware of his travels overseas, the governor added. They brought him back to Vermont, Shumlin said.
Doctors say the 21-day length of the voluntary quarantine represents the longest it takes from the time of Ebola exposure to when symptoms, including fever, show up.
"Vermonters should rest assured that we're on top of this one, and that he's in very good care," Shumlin told reporters.
NECN has learned the man's identity but is not reporting it at the request of Vermont officials who reiterated that he poses no health threat to others and is cooperating with medical experts in that voluntary quarantine.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Chris Louras of Rutland, Vermont, issued the following statement:
"On October 27th, a Rutland resident returned from West Africa and due to the uncertainty surrounding his intentions while there, officials have determined that the right thing to do was to offer the opportunity to voluntarily self-quarantine for the disease’s 21-day incubation period.
"Over the last several days, the City of Rutland and the State of Vermont have been working tirelessly and collaboratively to find a safe, secure location for this Rutland resident, and we have been successful.
"Since his return to the U.S. there has been unbroken contact with the Vermont health operations team, which includes both law enforcement and public health officials, and because he has been asymptomatic for the entire period there has been absolutely no risk to either public health or safety."
The man was apparently investigating the impact of Ebola on West Africa for himself, Shumlin told reporters. He apparently identified himself as a doctor, but is not a licensed physician in the state of Vermont, Shumlin noted.
Physicians say Ebola cannot be spread until symptoms are obvious. Again, that has not happened in the Vermont case.
"If any symptoms do develop, we will consult with health care providers and have already set up those contacts," said Patsy Kelso, Vermont's state epidemiologist.
Vermont's largest hospital has said it is prepared to provide care if it were to receive an Ebola patient. Select Fletcher Allen Health Care nurses and doctors would suit up in multiple layers of gloves, scrubs, and gowns, so no skin is exposed, as NECN witnessed Tuesday in a demonstration for hospital employees.
The gear includes an air-purifying respirator and face-shield. All the personal protective equipment would be put on and taken off in special zones to avoid contamination, with extra sets of eyes to protect against procedural mistakes, nurses explained in the demonstration.
"You hope for the best and prepare for the worst," said Dawn LeBaron, Fletcher Allen's vice president for hospital services. "The reality is, it's going to get closer and closer, if not here in Vermont."