Alabama monitoring 2 from Ebola risk areas

Alabama monitoring 2 from Ebola risk areas

The Alabama Department of Public Health is currently tracking two patients here in Alabama who have come from Ebola risk areas.

State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson says the patients were not exposed to the virus and have not shown any symptoms.

Out of an abundance of caution, the state will monitor them for 21 days, doing temperature checks at least twice a day. The monitoring period for those two patients ends sometime next week.

The CDC sends the health department a list of people who have returned from Ebola hot zones every night.

Williamson believes the risk of Alabama seeing a patient with Ebola is very low. Still, he says the state is prepared.

"We have surveyed our hospitals. Our hospitals will never have as much as they might like. Almost all of our hospitals do have the materials they might need if they have to care for an Ebola patient. We don't think that's our goal. Our goal is, if we have a patient, is to get that patient to a UAB or get them to some other center that is adequately staffed," Williamson said.

The debate over a mix of Ebola quarantine guidelines rages on.

Nurse Kaci Hickox refuses to comply with a request from the state of Maine to stay home for 21 days. She treated Ebola patients in west Africa but twice tested negative for the virus.

Williamson says there are laws in Alabama to address situations like this. He and Gov. Robert Bentley have the power to quarantine someone, if they pose a risk to public health.

"If however you had a patient, whether it was with Ebola or any other disease, that the cause of their non compliance with public health recommendations could put other citizens at risk, then you look at what your other legal options are, and under Alabama law, we would be able quarantine that individual," Williamson said.

Williamson says it's important to remember the Ebola virus is not airborne.

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