Rutland mayor exchanged emails with quarantine subject

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By Laura Krantz
VTDigger.org

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras exchanged five emails with the Vermont man now under quarantine while the man was still in West Africa, according to copies of the emails obtained by VTDigger Thursday.

Louras communicated with Peter Italia between Oct. 15 and Oct. 26 and ultimately learned when Italia was returning to the United States, the emails show.

Italia is under a 21-day voluntary quarantine in an undisclosed location, a precaution taken in the event that he was exposed to the Ebola virus during his trip to Africa. So far, he has not presented symptoms.

The Rutland sheriff and a health department official met Italia at JFK Airport in New York City and transported him back to Vermont on Oct. 27.

Louras said he initially made contact to confirm that Italia was, in fact, in Africa. City and state officials learned that he was in Africa after seeking him as a possible witness in an unrelated trial.

Louras said he forwarded the emails to state and federal officials and remained in contact with Italia, per their advice.

According to his Facebook profile, Italia went to Africa Sept. 25 to help treat patients there. Italia calls himself a doctor but is not licensed in Vermont. He has also written a book claiming he can travel through time and has other special powers.

The emails reflect Italia’s apparent frustration with the handling of the Ebola epidemic in Africa and his frustration after having not been taken seriously by aid organizations he planned to join in Guinea.

Rutland County Sheriff Stephen Benard and Joanne Calvi, a Department of Health nurse and director of the district office, met Italia at JFK airport in the customs area.

Italia agreed to ride back with them to Vermont and undergo voluntary quarantine. He spent one night at a Main Street motel in Rutland before officials moved him to a secure, undisclosed, location, officials said.

Local public health nurses visit him twice daily to check for symptoms and take his temperature.