Health workers miss Louisiana medical conference over Ebola warning

By Jonathan Kaminsky NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A healthcare worker in Liberia is among those staying away from a tropical medicine conference in New Orleans after the state of Louisiana warned of quarantining attendees potentially exposed to Ebola, Doctors Without Borders said on Monday. Amanda Tiffany, an epidemiologist with the humanitarian aid group, was one of at least 10 people blocked from attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) on threat of quarantine, conference officials said, adding that they oppose the policy. "Unfortunately my colleague, Amanda Tiffany, was not allowed to travel to ASTMH due to fear of quarantine upon arrival," said Carrie Teicher, a doctor with Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, speaking at the conference."She hopes these regulations get changed quickly as the stigma American and other colleagues are now facing is great," Teicher added. Those planning to attend the Nov. 2-6 conference, expected to number more than 4,000, were warned in a letter sent last week by Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals to stay away if they had been in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea within the past 21 days or had been in contact with Ebola patients. The worst Ebola outbreak on record, centered in those three West African countries, has killed nearly 5,000 people. "We see no utility in you traveling to New Orleans to simply be confined to your room," the state health department said. Conference organizers, calling the state's quarantine policy "outside of the scientific understanding of Ebola transmission," said it disagreed with Louisiana's rules. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican widely seen as holding 2016 presidential ambitions, has been among those calling for a travel ban to the United States from countries affected by Ebola. Mandatory quarantines issued by some U.S. states for doctors and nurses returning from West Africa's Ebola outbreak have created a chilling effect on aid work there, MSF has said. (Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Eric Walsh)