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Mecklenburg County says it’s monitoring ‘less than 10’ from West African countries

The Mecklenburg County Health Department said Monday it’s monitoring “less than 10” people in the Charlotte area who recently arrived in the United States from the west African countries impacted by the Ebola virus.

The daily monitoring is part of new federal government guidelines in which travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia not only have their temperatures checked upon arrival at the airport, but must check in with local health deaprtments for three weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control has called the new guidelines “active post-arrival monitoring.”

Mecklenburg County Health Director Stephen Keener said the monitoring is routine. He said the travelers are taking their own temperature twice a day and are being called by local health officials daily. They are being asked whether they have any Ebola symptoms, such as vomiting or fatigue. He said the people being monitored have all been reachable and no one has shown any signs of having the virus.

The local monitoring started about a week ago, Keener said.

Keener said people will be removed from the monitoring list after passing the 21-day window, while others will likely be added as they arrive from the impacted countries.

Keener made a presentation to the Charlotte City Council Monday night about the county’s efforts to be prepared if someone is diagnosed with the virus in the city.

He stressed that the virus is difficult to catch. He said since March - when the outbreak expanded in Africa - about 9,000 who are citizens of the three impacted countries have come to the U.S. One of those visitors - Thomas Eric Duncan - was diagnosed with the disease in Dallas.

“The guidelines from the CDC have changed a lot since August, and they will probably change some more,” Keener said. “We will be flexible.”

The CDC in early October began taking temperatures of all arrivals from three countries. Last week it announced that it would conduct additional follow-up monitoring.

City Council LaWana Mayfield questioned Keener about the county’s plans for any quarantine of people who have recently arrived from the impacted countries. She said she was concerned about New Jersey’s decision to quarantine and isolate a nurse who had recently returned to the state after working in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders.

Keener said no one is under any isolation or quarantine in Charlotte.