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Robins talks Ebola protocol for airmen | News

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Robins talks Ebola protocol for airmen
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ID=17312565The woman in charge of managing public health emergencies for Robins Air Force Base calmed concerns about airmen bringing Ebola back home with them after deployments.

Colonel Anita Winkler, chief of aerospace medicine at the 78th Medical Group, called the risk of that happening low for two reasons.

One. she says there are no Robins airmen currently deployed in West Africa.

Two, they're following strict screening guidelines put in place by the Department of Defense.

Winkler says the DOD closely monitors military members leaving West Africa for the U.S.

"They have a screening questionnaire they use with any kind of disease process. First of all, were you in the area with an Ebola outbreak? Number two, were you actually in close contact - and they define contact by this questionnaire as not just passing through a room that has somebody with Ebola but actually direct contact care where there's actual physical contact," she said.

She says if an airman were to show symptoms before returning, they would not be allowed to return to their base.

"If someone's in West Africa or [an] Ebola outbreak area and they're exhibiting signs and symptoms of the disease, then they're transported to a medical facility where they can get the care. They're not kept in the country for 21 days. They're either sent somewhere else for either quarantine or the medical care they need if they're exhibiting signs and symptoms," Winkler said.

Even if they were not showing symptoms but had possible exposure to Ebola, they would be monitored after arriving in the U.S. for 21 days with temperature readings twice a day.

"If at that time they do take a temperature, that's when we'll be working with our community partners to find out how to get them to the care that they need," Winkler said.

Winkler says it's important for people to remember that Ebola can only spread through direct physical contact with an Ebola patient.

"Everyone should have a healthy concern of any sort of infectious disease process that could potentially kill people. I'm also concerned about the flu, chicken pox, West Nile," she said.

Winkler will meet with officials at the Houston Medical Center on Friday.

That meeting is about coordinating efforts between Robins and the local community if a case of Ebola were to happen here.


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