National Security

U.S. troop falls ill on flight back from Liberia; first test for Ebola is negative

Sixty-nine U.S. service members from all four branches of service return from West Africa supporting Operation United Assistance, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas.
Sixty-nine U.S. service members from all four branches of service return from West Africa supporting Operation United Assistance, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas. AP

A U.S. service member returning from Liberia threw up during the flight home, prompting additional medical care to determine if he had been exposed to Ebola, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The service member, who was returning along with 70 other troops, was headed to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they were to undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine – a requirement the Pentagon imposed after a New York City doctor returning from working with Ebola patients in West Africa tested positive for the disease. The doctor was hospitalized, recovered and was released. None of the people he’d come in contact with before he was hospitalized contracted the disease.

According to a Defense Department, the service member who became ill on the flight home is being treated at Fort Bliss and has been tested once for Ebola. That test came back negative. The Pentagon declined to identify the service branch of the ill troop or how long he’d been in Liberia.

Meanwhile, amid signs that the contagion is easing in Liberia, the Pentagon announced that it has decided to build smaller treatment centers in West Africa.

The original plans called for the military to build 17 treatment centers to house 100 Ebola patients each, and three of those centers will open this weekend, said Army Col. Steven Warren. The next seven centers built will accommodate just 50 patients, Warren said.

There are currently 2,591 U.S. troops in western Africa, Warren said.

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