The United States will soon begin screening travelers who come from countries with cases of Ebola, an often deadly virus that causes severe bleeding and organ failure.
In a statement Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that is closely following the outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea.
Earlier this month, a woman in Butembo, a city in North Kivu Province, died after contracting the virus. Her death came just months after the DRC had declared an end to an Ebola outbreak there. Days following the woman’s passing, a second person died after contracting Ebola.
Then, on Feb. 14., health authorities in Guinea declared an outbreak of Ebola in the rural community of Gouéké in N’Zerekore prefecture, the first time cases of the virus had been confirmed there since 2016.
In response to these outbreaks, the CDC said the U.S. will “institute public health measures” for the limited number of travelers arriving in the U.S. from DRC and Guinea “out of an abundance of caution.”
CONGO BRACES FOR POTENTIAL EBOLA SPREAD AMID CORONAVIRUS
“The outbreaks are centered in remote areas of these countries. The risk of Ebola to the United States is extremely low. The Biden administration is committed to working closely with the affected countries to end these outbreaks before they grow into epidemics,” the CDC said.
“Air travel has the potential to transport people, some of whom may have been exposed to a communicable disease, anywhere across the globe in less than 24 hours,” the federal agency. “Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. government will institute public health measures for the very small number of travelers arriving from DRC and Guinea.”
The CDC said that beginning this week, the U.S. government will “will funnel travelers from DRC and Guinea to six U.S. airports.”
“Airlines will collect and transmit passenger information to CDC for public health follow-up and intervention for all passengers boarding a flight to the U.S. who were in DRC or Guinea within the previous 21 days. Passengers can expect verification of data on arrival to ensure completeness and accurateness of contact information. This information will be shared with U.S. state and local health departments to appropriately monitor arrivals in their jurisdiction,” the CDC added.
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It was not immediately clear which six airports the U.S. will be funneling travelers through.
The Ebola virus is highly contagious and can be contracted through bodily fluids such as vomit, blood or semen. The virus can live in the semen of male survivors for more than three years, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, and health experts say as outbreaks become more frequent, it’s important to understand more about how it’s contracted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.