Person ‘under surveillance’ for Ebola in Kent County after returning from West Africa

Posted at 10:20 PM, Oct 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-25 00:02:44-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- A person in Kent County is being monitored for Ebola after returning from West Africa, the Health Department announced Friday.

It's a first for West Michigan and The Kent County Health Department says this person is at a very low risk.

They are not in quarantine but are currently being monitored twice a day by the health department.

“That individual's temperature is great, their health is great,” Adam London, director of the Kent County Health Department, said.

“When someone who has a travel history to those three Ebola affected nations in West Africa, they`re all being routed to those five major U.S. airports,” London said.

London would not reveal the person's identity, he will only say they flew into one of the five designated airports and that’s when the CDC alerted the Michigan Department of Community Health, who in turn alerted the Kent County Health Department.

London won’t say if the person flew into Ford Airport, only that they traveled without restrictions.

Health professionals will check in with the person twice a day, recording their temperature and health status.

“What’s important is that we know who they are and they are cooperating with us, and there’s a system in place for ensuring that if anything happens with their health, that they’ll be taken care of and isolated,” London said.

London will not say why the person made the trip or for how long they were in West Africa, but he does tell us they were not involved in health care and don’t believe they came in contact with anyone with Ebola.

If we were to see a case of Ebola in Kent County, London says the health department is prepared.

“We have a regional planning team that’s been meeting on a regular basis for the last several weeks and that includes hospitals and public health, EMS, first responders, 911 dispatch, law enforcement really representing all the players that would be involved in isolating and taking care of a person with Ebola,” he said.

Around 100 people fly into the United States from West Africa daily, and others from West Michigan returning from the infected region will undergo this monitoring process.

“I think the reality is the outbreak in Africa is getting worse and as that outbreak gets worse, it`s exponentially increasing the risk for everyone around the world now and for as long as that outbreak persists, we`re all going to be at risk and so we`ve got some work to do in Africa to make this end,” London said.

The health department says travel history is the only reason this person is considered at low risk for having contracted Ebola.

They will be monitored for 21 days, though the health department won't say how long they have been in Kent County or when that 21 day surveillance will completed.