Missionaries return to US and Ebola quarantine

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — Three missionaries who worked with patients infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia have returned to the United States.

The group they were working for, Charlotte-based SIM USA, said in a news release Monday that all three were healthy and showed no signs of infection. However, they are being held in quarantine at least three weeks dating from the time the missionaries were last exposed to people infected with the virus.

David Writebol is one of the missionaries who returned by private charter plane late Sunday night. His wife, Nancy, remains in isolation in an Atlanta hospital after she was returned to the United States for treatment last week.

Writebol and her husband, David, had been in Liberia since last August, sent there by SIM USA and sponsored by their home congregation at Calvary Church in North Carolina. At the clinic, Nancy Writebol’s duties included disinfecting staff entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area.

The missionaries will be staying in a private section of SIM USA’s 90-acre headquarters.

Dr. Megan Davies, the state’s epidemiologist with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, said the missionaries will check in twice a day, updating health officials with such information as their temperature, or if they have headaches or abdominal pains.

Such quarantines are not unusual, Davies said.

The virus is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from a sick person. Ebola can’t be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing the same air as someone who is infected.

“We are excited to have these three missionaries safely back in the U.S.,” SIM President Bruce Johnson said. “They are all healthy and in good spirits, and we want to express our gratitude to all those involved in the effort to bring them back, and for the prayers of countless people around the world.”

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