GREENSBORO — Two people in Guilford County are under voluntary quarantine while county health officials monitor them for symptoms of Ebola. The individuals have not come in contact with other people who have the disease or demonstrated any symptoms of Ebola. They are being monitored because the federal government mandates the oversight for those who arrive in the United States from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, County Medical Director Laura Bachmann said Monday.
“I think it’s good for people to remember that this is not an easy virus to get,” Bachmann said. “It takes direct contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids.”
Health workers are contacting the two people daily, Bachmann said.
The news comes a day after state health officials announced that Duke University Hospital had admitted a patient who showed Ebola symptoms. On Monday morning, health officials released results of an Ebola test that showed the patient at Duke did not have Ebola.
That patient will undergo another test Wednesday morning, officials said during a conference call Monday. Duke University Hospital doctors will determine when the patient might be released.
Three family members are serving a voluntary 21-day quarantine in the Person County home that the patient traveled to on Saturday.
The patient, who flew from Liberia, arrived at a New Jersey airport on Friday and took a cab, then a commercial bus on Saturday from New Jersey to Durham County, according to officials. The patient did not have symptoms while on the bus, officials said.
After arriving in Durham County, a family member drove the patient to a family home in Person County. The patient developed a fever Sunday morning and called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as instructed by U.S. Customs officials.
Because the patient has tested negative for Ebola, officials said Monday that they will not pursue contact or monitoring of anyone who was on the bus.
In the U.S., people are more likely to contract the flu or other illnesses, Bachmann said.
“We don’t want people to panic,” said Sandy Ellington, spokeswoman for the Guilford County Department of Public Health. “We don’t want people (who develop a fever) to assume they have Ebola.”
However, if somebody does develop a fever, it is important that they contact their health care provider, Ellington said.
A concern with Ebola is that symptoms can show up anywhere from two days to 21 days after exposure to the virus, depending on the “viral load,” or how much body fluid to which the patient is exposed.
County health officials have the authority to quarantine patients, Ellington said, but prefer to ask patients to quarantine themselves by choosing not to go out in public or taking public transportation.
The two people whom Guilford County is monitoring are cooperating fully with the voluntary quarantine, Guilford County Public Health Director Merle Green said.
“All the cases are different,” Green said. “We have to look at risk levels – where they work, where they live, where they’ve been. The numbers are small enough everywhere that patients can be handled individually.”