Since an outbreak of Ebola hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo in July, the Obama administration has brought into the U.S. at least 1,900 refugees from the disease-stricken nation, WND has learned.
Required medical screening for refugees may not detect all diseases. The mandatory blood and urine tests for all refugees would not detect Ebola.
The strain of Ebola found in the Congo is slightly different from the virus that has been ravaging West Africa. Researchers have concluded the Congolese outbreak is not connected to the epidemic in West Africa.
The U.S. refugee program this year is on pace to resettle 70,000 citizens, including a limit for the fiscal year of 2014 of 14,000 from Africa, with the State Department giving priority to Congolese refugees.
Since July, at least 1,900 Congolese refugees have been resettled within the U.S., according to statistics provided by the State Department.
A report from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration shows 944 refugees were admitted from the Congo in July; 628 in August and 338 in September, for a total of 1,910 Congolese refugees.
The exact number of arrivals from the Congo for this month are not yet published. However, the total number of October arrivals so far from the region of Africa, according to the State Department, is 934, with most likely coming from the Congo.
The Congo has had its own outbreak of Ebola that started in late-July reportedly after a hunter brought home an infected bush animal carcass. Since then, 49 people have died in the Congo.
The latest confirmed case of Ebola was Oct. 4, leading experts to believe the disease may have been contained there. There is speculation the World Health Organization could declare the Ebola outbreak in the Congo over by the middle of November if no new cases are presented.
Asked for comment on the issue, State Department Spokesman Daniel Langenkamp referred WND to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Langenkamp stated the CDC’s Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Health Branch “has the delegated regulatory authority to oversee the quality of overseas medical exams required of immigrants and refugees coming to the United States.”
The CDC has not returned WND’s phone and email inquiries on the subject for the past two days.
WND asked the CDC’s media relations department whether the agency has taken any extra precautions before admitting Congolese refugees after the Ebola outbreak there, including by providing any specific antibody blood tests.
The CDC’s website explains all refugees admitted to the U.S. must undergo a basic medical examination.
The CDC mandates that all incoming refugees be given a complete blood count with a white blood cell differential, platelets count and a general urinalysis. Newborn infants are also given a metabolic screening, according to different state guidelines.
The CDC website documents the purpose of the blood test is usually to determine the existence of Anemia, a common finding in refugees. Those refugees found to be anaemic will be provided with treatment.
Diagnosing Ebola in an person who has been infected for only a few days is usually difficult, with some remaining asymptomatic for a small period of time.
Specific laboratory tests for Ebola-like antibodies can sometimes detect the disease after a few days of symptoms.
If the CDC is relying in part on a patient’s oral medical history to determine the presence of Ebola, there is concern a refugee, eager to arrive in the U.S., could provide an inaccurate health profile. The refugee can also take medication to reduce a fever prior to a physical examination.
Thomas Duncan, the Liberian who became the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., reportedly lied about his history of contact with Ebola when he filled out an airport questionnaire in Liberia before boarding a Brussels Airlines flight to Brussels and then a transfer flight to Washington and ultimately to Dallas/Fort Worth.
Congolese refugees are not the only Africans arriving to the U.S. from Ebola-plagues nations. Last week, the Daily Signal reported the U.S. was still providing visas from the three West African countries at the heart of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, according to the State Department’s most recent report to Congress on the U.S. resettlement program, refugee arrivals from Africa “are also strong and are on-pace to exceed our regional projection of 12,000 refugees.”
The report documents the U.S. has given priority to Congolese refugees, as the U.S. has joined the United Nations and international resettlement community in an effort to resettle 50,000 Congolese in coming years.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.