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U.S. Army Africa and other U.S. military personnel supporting Operation United Assistance will be returning to their respective home stations soon. Protocols for their returns have been developed to ensure their safety and minimize the possibility of Ebola virus infection elsewhere. The U.S. Agency for International Development is the lead U.S. Government organization for Operation United Assistance. U.S. Africa Command is supporting the effort by providing command and control, logistics, training and engineering assets to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in West African nations. (U.S. Army Africa photos)

     
 

USARAF personnel to return from Operation United Assistance

Rich Bartell, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs

VICENZA, Italy – In the near future, many of U.S. Army Africa personnel are slated to return from supporting Operation United Assistance in Liberia where they were helping stem an Ebola virus outbreak.

Here are some key points to take into consideration as these people return from this humanitarian mission:

• No one from USARAF has contracted the Ebola virus

• USARAF personnel did not have any contact with Ebola patients

• The risk for USARAF personnel contracting Ebola is very low

• USARAF members aren’t providing patient care – they are helping build infrastructure

• All personnel will be medically screened prior to leaving Liberia

• All USARAF personnel will be medically monitored after their return from Liberia

• Medical monitoring will be terminated if individuals are symptom free after 21 days

• Health re-assessment will take place 90-120 days after returning from Liberia

Lt. Col. Wes Hoyt, USARAF deputy surgeon, emphasizes level of risk for people returning from Liberia.

“The overall risk of contracting Ebola to individuals deployed in support of Operation United Assistance is very low,” Hoyt said. “It’s important for people returning from Liberia to follow instructions to further decrease their likelihood of contracting any disease during this deployment.”

Recently, USARAF commander, Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said the risk of contracting the Ebola virus for U.S. personnel supporting Operation United Assistance is low.

“None of the 500 troops on the ground now in Liberia and Senegal have shown symptoms of Ebola,” Williams said.

He said procedures to minimize risk are being employed.

"I would not say there's no risk. But there is risk that can be tampered down if you take the appropriate discipline and use the protocols," he said.

Williams said troops are at extremely low risk of getting the virus because they are not providing direct care to Ebola patients.

According to information provided by the World Health Organization, Ebola is transmitted via direct contact, through broken skin or mucous membranes, with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with contaminated surfaces and materials.

In an effort to provide clarity and information on returning USARAF personnel, two town hall meetings are set for Wednesday, Oct. 22 at Caserma Ederle’s Post Theater, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

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