SAN MATEO (KCBS)— A Stanford surgeon has been put on modified quarantine in San Mateo County after treating Ebola patients in Liberia for the past month.
Dr. Colin Bucks returned to the Bay Area on Friday, but no state or federal quarantine orders were in place at the time. Dr. Bucks is not experiencing any symptoms of Ebola, but he is the first Californian to be quarantined under the new guidelines. Bucks is considered by health officials to be at "some risk."
The doctor contacted San Mateo County health officials. After consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the California Dept. of Public Health, Dr. Bucks was told to stay away from work and to stay away from others for 21 days. However, he can leave his house to go jogging by himself. He is taking his temperature every day and has not developed any symptoms.
"I'm California's most experienced Ebola physician. I won't take a single chance," said Dr. Bucks in a New York Times interview. "My wife is away, my dog is away -- there's no downside to a little personal convenience, 3 weeks will pass."
He spent a little over a month in Liberia with the International Medical Corps, working directly with Ebola patients. "This is a medical public health emergency. When I saw the news of the outbreak occurring, it wasn't so much whether I would go, it was how and in what capacity."
This comes as the California Department of Public Health issued a new Ebola protocol. The state is requiring a 21-day quarantine for people traveling from Ebola-stricken areas who have had contact with infected patients.
Dr. Ron Chapman, the state's health officer, announced Wednesday that California is establishing a statewide standard to protect the public. Chapman said the extent of quarantines will be determined by county health officials on a case-by-case basis.
Chapman said a number of California health care workers have volunteered to help combat the epidemic in West Africa. Chapman said that Bucks' quarantine is consistent with the new guidelines he outlined on Wednesday. The 21-day quarantine is for anyone returning from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone who has had contact with an Ebola patient. The county is allowed to modify the quarantine on a case-by-case basis.
"We have great respect for health-care workers that are over in those countries that are contributing to the effort to control Ebola at its source and we want to make sure they're treated with dignity and respect when they return," Chapman said.
He added that he's trying to strike a balance between protecting public health and honoring civil rights and not contributing to public panic.
There are no reported or confirmed cases of Ebola in California.
California is imposing the risked-based quarantines after the governors of New Jersey and New York were criticized for ordering mandatory quarantines. The Pentagon said troops returning from Ebola missions will be isolated.
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