If any American soldiers in Liberia contract the deadly Ebola virus, they will be quarantined, stabilized, and evacuated to a medical facility for treatment, said the Ebola mission commander, adding that the U.S. military hospitals that will admit potentially infected troops have not yet been identified.
“If, God forbid, one of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marine contracted this disease, as I mentioned, they would be stabilized, they would be quarantined, we would go through the appropriate protocols,” Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa, said on October 16 while briefing reporters in the Pentagon by telephone from Liberia. “People would be attending to them in the appropriate PPE [personal protective equipment].”
“As of today, no one has shown those symptoms. … I’ve been here 30 days as of today,” he added. “And so they would be quarantined and then we would synchronize and work those actions so they would go back to the appropriate medical facility.”
Over 500 American troops are in West Africa, and according to Williams, none will directly be treating Ebola patients. However, he said that a select group of sailors will be handling mobile labs that contain bodily fluids of Ebola patients.
“I’m not an epidemiologist, but it’s been shown that this disease is most manifest when handling bodily fluids–blood, other sorts of fluids, and there is no plan right now for U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to do that,” said the general. “Now, the exception is the mobile labs that were here, and they are triple-protective.”
“The sailors that are in there performing the confirm-or-deny on the Ebola virus, they are wearing PPE, and they are testing for this virus,” said Williams, later adding, “They are handling specimens of people who have been inflicted with the Ebola virus.”
Nevertheless, he indicated that the risk of infection is “relatively low.”
“As long as you exercise basic sanitation and cleanliness sort of protocols using the chlorine wash on your hands and your feet, get your temperature taken, limiting the exposure, the–no handshaking, those sorts of protocols, I think the risk is relatively low,” explained the general.
Regarding American soldiers whose duty stations are overseas, William said it is uncertain whether they will have to be quarantined before returning to those stations.