Ebola virus (stock illustration). A new study suggests that 21 days of quarantine might not be enough to completely prevent spread of the virus.
Credit: © krishnacreations / Fotolia
As medical personnel and public health officials are responding to the first reported cases of Ebola Virus in the United States, many of the safety and treatment procedures for treating the virus and preventing its spread are being reexamined. One of the tenets for minimizing the risk of spreading the disease has been a 21-day quarantine period for individuals who might have been exposed to the virus. But a new study by Charles Haas, PhD, a professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, suggests that 21 days might not be enough to completely prevent spread of the virus.
Haas’s study “On the Quarantine Period for Ebola Virus,” recently published in PLOS Currents: Outbreaks looks at the murky basis for our knowledge about the virus, namely previous outbreaks in Africa in 1976 (Zaire) and 2000 (Uganda) as well as the first 9 months of the current outbreak.
In both cases, data gathered by the World Health Organization reported a 2-21 day incubation period for the virus -meaning that after 21 days if the individual hasn’t presented symptoms they are likely not to be infected or contagious. This is likely the genesis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 21-day quarantine period, but there is little indication from the CDC as to what other considerations played into this policy.
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