The Mecklenburg County Health Department is monitoring a SIM missionary who returned to the Charlotte area from one of the West African countries that has been affected by the Ebola virus outbreak, the Christian mission agency confirmed Sunday.
Charlotte-based SIM has been working with state and local public health officials for weeks to prepare for the arrival of the missionary, Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, said in a statement.
“This missionary has been checked by our public health officials and is healthy and shows no signs of Ebola,” Johnson said. “SIM’s policy is to follow CDC guidelines, adhere to the directives of our public health agencies and to treat people as we would want to be treated.”
SIM said it is withholding the identity of the missionary for privacy reasons at this time. The Mecklenburg County Health Department said Sunday the individual arrived in the Charlotte area “via private ground transportation” and not through Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
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In a statement late Saturday, the Health Department said the person has been classified as “some risk” under categories outlined by the Centers for Disease Control. That means the individual has had close contact in households, health-care facilities or community settings with a person with Ebola while the person was infectious.
The individual will be monitored for 21 days, according to state and CDC guidelines, the Health Department said. If the person needs to be quarantined, travel and contact with other individuals will be restricted.
“We are informing the community out of an abundance of caution,” the Health Department said in the statement. “The risk to the community is very low.”
SIM and the Health Department said they would have no further comment until Monday. The department’s communicable disease staff needs time to evaluate the patient, the department said.
Mecklenburg County health officials got experience with Ebola in August when SIM missionary Nancy Writebol contracted Ebola while working in Liberia.
The health director quarantined her husband, David Writebol, along with several other missionaries who returned from Liberia to the SIM campus that month. Nancy Writebol recovered and was released Aug. 19 from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
SIM is a nondenominational Christian group with about 3,000 missionaries and staffers all over the world. It has a 90-acre campus near Carowinds in south Charlotte.