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January 04, 2016

Philadelphia health department stops daily monitoring for Ebola

Department ends heightened precautions following news that Guinea is Ebola-free

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has ended its daily monitoring of people traveling to and from the West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

The health department began monitoring travelers arriving from the affected countries on Oct. 22, 2014, shortly after the mistreatment of an Ebola victim in Dallas heightened fears of Ebola spreading throughout the United States. But the health department ended its monitoring following the World Health Organization's declaration last week that Guinea is Ebola-free.

The health department monitored 961 people for Ebola symptoms from Oct. 22, 2014, to Dec. 29, 2015, following their arrival from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Mali. None were found to have Ebola, but about 25 travelers developed an illness during the 21-day observation period and needed further medical evaluation.

The Ebola epidemic killed 11,300 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were four confirmed cases in the United States, resulting in one death.

Liberia was declared Ebola-free by the WHO in September but later developed new cases. Sierra Leone was declared free in November.

“Although the risk of spread of Ebola in the United States was low, active surveillance of West African travelers by the health department and stringent preparedness activities by healthcare facilities was key in preventing this deadly infection from emerging locally,” acting Health Commissioner Jane Baker said in a statement.

The health department also removed its recommendation that clinicians screen patients for travel to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.

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