PSU Fellow Cuts West Africa Trip Short Due To Ebola Outbreak
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two American aid workers – seriously ill with the Ebola virus – will be brought from West Africa to Atlanta, Ga., in the coming days.
One is due Saturday, it’s not clear yet when the second patient will arrive.
Both will be treated in a highly-specialized isolation unit at Emory University Hospital.
Those American aid workers were stationed in Liberia, one of three West African countries struggling with the Ebola outbreak. The virus has already killed more than 700 people.
And a young man from Pittsburgh is among the Americans trying to escape the outbreak.
Penn State fellow Jerrel Gilliam cut short his research trip to Sierra Leone after the United States government warned against non-essential travel to the three Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.
“I wanted to stay as long as I could, but the situation is out of control. And it seems like it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Gilliam.
Early Friday morning, Gilliam spoke to CNN from Sierra Leone’s airport where he’d just gone through enhanced screening.
“As soon as you get into the arrivals area you are prompted to fill out a form asking if you’ve been showing any symptoms of Ebola over the last few weeks,” said Gilliam. “After you fill out that form, a gentleman in full medical gear with a breathing mask and gloves looks at that form, and then he takes your temperature.”
The screening is not fool-proof.
The incubation period for Ebola is 21 days and the system heavily relies on the honor system.
“If someone is trying to get out of the country, and they’re filling out this form, then they’re going to check ‘no’ even if they had experienced a fever in the last few weeks,” Gilliam said.
The CDC predicts it will take at least three months to contain the epidemic in West Africa.