October 30, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Infectious Diseases Public Health
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) yesterday published statewide guidelines for quarantining individuals with suspected cases of Ebola and those who are at high risk of contracting or spreading the disease. These rules are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and include a mandatory 21-day quarantine for any travelers who had contact with an Ebola patient, whether or not the travelers are showing symptoms.
However, the state said it would allow local health authorities to enforce the order on a “case-by-case” basis, with varying levels of restriction and monitoring, from monitoring with no movement restrictions to isolation, based on the risk assessment.
The quarantine order will apply to anyone who has traveled from an Ebola affected area (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) or who has had contact with someone with a confirmed case of the virus. The quarantine orders will be issued and supervised by county health officers on a case-by-case basis.
“Not everyone who has been to an Ebola affected area should be considered high risk,” Dr. Chapman said. “This order will allow local health officers to determine, for those coming into California, who is most at risk for developing this disease, and to contain any potential spread of infectious disease by responding to those risks appropriately.”
Currently federal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Centers for Disease Control Services’ (CDC) Division of Global Migration and Quarantine are screening travelers coming to California from the three West African countries at U.S. ports-of-entry. All returning travelers are asked about possible risk exposures and recent history of signs and symptoms of Ebola. Travelers are also checked for fever.
According to the CDPH, it receives daily lists from the CDC with contact information for all travelers who were screened through this process and whose final destination is California. The CDPH sends the information on the same day to the local health department at the traveler’s final destination.
Local health departments are responsible for actively monitoring the individual twice a day for symptoms of Ebola. In California, local health officers already had the authority to order quarantine of people who may have an infectious disease that threatens public health. This order, however, will ensure consistent application across the state of quarantine for high risk individuals in order to control risks from Ebola.
To read the CDPH's quarantine guidance, click here.