Some of the colleagues of one of the American aid workers stricken with the deadly Ebola virus while working in west Africa have returned to North Carolina.
SIM USA, a Charlotte-based missionary group, said three missionaries, including Nancy Writebol's husband, returned Sunday night to Charlotte.
The names of missionaries are being withheld to protect their privacy and that of their families, SIMS officials said.
"We are excited to have these three missionaries safely back in the U.S.," said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. "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."
All three SIM missionaries are healthy and showing no signs or symptoms of Ebola infection. Each was checked and cleared medically before boarding the flight from Liberia to the U.S. Each was also checked and found healthy by Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Public Health communicable disease specialists upon arrival in Charlotte.
Ebola is not contagious unless a person is presenting symptoms.
The missionaries will remain under a 21-day quarantine that began in Liberia, the continuation of which is being required by the Mecklenburg County Health Department, working in concert with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. SIM appreciates and sought the involvement of local, state, national and international public health professionals to ensure public safety.
Dr. Stephen Keener, Mecklenburg County medical director, said the quarantine is a preventative measure, and at this time public health officials feel there is no cause for concern.
"Quarantine is a public health measure to protect the public that requires healthy people who were exposed to a disease to be prevented from contact with others until it is certain that they are not infected," Keener said in a press release Sunday.
The 21-day period is based on the longest duration of incubation, which is the delay between exposure and onset of illness for Ebola infection. The average incubation period is 8-10 days, while the range is two-21 days. In this case, the period of quarantine is only for the length of time necessary to complete the 21-day observation period, the press release went on to say.
The three SIM missionaries will be staying in a private section of SIM USA's 90-acre campus in Charlotte until they have been released from quarantine. SIM has been working with the Mecklenburg County Health Department and the N.C. Division of Public Health to make full preparations for this period.
Upon completion of the 21-day quarantine period, David Writebol plans to visit his wife Nancy in Atlanta.