- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama has monitored three people who traveled to the state from west African countries with Ebola outbreaks, and there have been no problems, the state health officer said Thursday.

Dr. Don Williamson and Gov. Robert Bentley held a news conference to provide an update on Alabama’s preparations.

Williamson said anyone traveling into a U.S. airport from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is checked by the Centers for Disease Control upon arrival, and then the CDC notifies the state where the person is headed. The health department then picks up monitoring. The CDC rated all three people in Alabama as low risk because they had not been exposed to Ebola patients.

Williamson said one finished the 21-day monitoring period Wednesday. Monitoring of the other two is continuing.

The monitoring involves the person taking a temperature reading twice a day and watching for symptoms. That is reported to a health department employee who contacts the person daily.

Williamson said the three people monitored so far have been cooperative, but he and the governor have the authority to order a quarantine of anyone who is not.

Bentley said he and Williamson will be sending letters soon to all university presidents in the state asking them to notify the state if they have any students who plan to travel home to Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea at the end of the fall semester and return for the spring semester. The students would turn up through the CDC’s checks when they return to the United States, but Williamson said, “It’s always better to have two data streams.”

Bentley and Williamson said the medical center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is ready to treat an Ebola case if one develops in Alabama, and other major medical centers are making preparations.

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