CDC designates El Paso as quarantine site, including for Ebola

CDC designates El Paso an Ebola quarantine site

EL PASO, Texas - The Centers for Disease Control has designated El Paso as one of 20 quarantine stations for infectious diseases, including Ebola.

The Sun City is part of a comprehensive system designed to prevent the spread of the disease in the United States.

While ebola has never been detected in the U.S., that doesn't mean it can't make its way to the country. The biggest concern is at airports with international flights and ports of entry, which there are a lot of in the Borderland.

"It's a scary virus ... Definitely," said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the health authority for the El Paso City/County Health Department. "Terribly deadly. It's one of those viral hemorragic fevers. They haven't found where it's coming from, if it's coming from an animal to the human or what. But we know there is human tissue transmission."

That means it cannot be contracted like the flu, through the air. It can only be spread by direct contact with bodily fluids like saliva or secretions.

The CDC released a map showing the 20 quarantine stations designated across the country, including El Paso, mostly where international travelers arrive. The closest ones are in San Diego and Dallas.

El Paso's CDC offices are located in West El Paso off Sunland Park Drive.

Dr. Miguel Escobedo runs the offices, but would speak with ABC-7 on camera.

However, he told ABC-7 if someone needed to be quarantined for ebola here in El Paso, they would immediately be sent to the hospital.

Symptoms include fever, rash, vomiting and diarrhea.

While there are no reports of ebola so far in the U.S., some doctors fear it could happen. But Dr. Ocaranza said it's highly unlikely.

"I don't think we should be concerned, even if we're on the list of quarantine stations," he said. "I don't think we should be concerned with these kinds of viruses. It is still contained within Africa, unfortunately it has been one of the largest outbreaks of this virus and it has a high mortality."

El Paso International Airport officials confirmed that it is a designated CDC quarantine site, but only in the event the CDC activates it.

In the unlikely event there were an ebola scare in the Borderland, bi-national communication between the CDC and Mexico's Department of Health would be key to keeping it contained.

Video: Inside an Airport Quarantine Station

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