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Nicaragua quarantines US embassy staffer over Ebola fears

April 13, 2015

Nicaraguan authorities said Monday they have quarantined a U.S. embassy staffer who came into contact with Ebola patients in Liberia, but the United States denied he was exposed to the disease.

The 51-year-old U.S. citizen “confirmed that he spent time in health facilities where Ebola patients are being treated” during a trip to Liberia, said the ministry’s head of epidemiology, Carlos Saenz.

The U.S. embassy in Nicaragua acknowledged the unnamed man had traveled to Liberia, but denied he had come into contact with Ebola patients.

Before returning to Nicaragua, he was examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, which confirmed he had no symptoms of the hemorrhagic fever, the embassy said in a statement.

Nicaragua‘s own health ministry had cleared him to return to the Central American country and resume work, the embassy added.

Nicaragua said the man had arrived there Sunday after traveling to Liberia “in the past three months.”

The Nicaraguan government has asked the U.S. State Department to send a plane “with all equipment necessary” to take him back to the United States, said Saenz.

In the meantime, the health ministry has isolated him at his home, set up a security corridor around it and ordered a medical team to visit him twice a day.

The man does not show symptoms of the disease and the measures are strictly preventive, Saenz said.

Last year, Nicaragua declared a health alert over Ebola and detained at least 16 undocumented immigrants from Africa, placing them in quarantine.

But no cases of the disease have been detected in the country.

The Ebola outbreak that erupted in West Africa last year has ravaged Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, killing more than 10,600 people in the past 15 months.

But the number of new infections has fallen, and the World Health Organization said last week that the risk of international spread appeared to be receding.

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