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Pallets of supplies, including water and MREs, are loaded onto a C-130 on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to be delivered to Liberia in support of the U.S. military effort to fight Ebola in West Africa, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

Pallets of supplies, including water and MREs, are loaded onto a C-130 on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to be delivered to Liberia in support of the U.S. military effort to fight Ebola in West Africa, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

NAPLES, Italy — European nations hosting U.S. bases from which troops are deploying to Ebola-affected areas of Africa are wary of letting them back in, despite the military’s planned quarantine measures, officials said.

Spain has refused to accept servicemembers arriving directly from Ebola-affected areas, while Italy has indicated it will accept only those who deploy from the country, according to several Defense Department officials. Questions remain about Djibouti, the small African country on the opposite side of the continent, from where a 15-member Seabee team deployed last month.

Between restrictions already in place and the possibility of new ones, military officials say the issue affects how they deploy troops based overseas.

“They’re eventually going to have to go back to their home station,” said one defense official, who has knowledge of the discussion but was unauthorized to speak about it. “The question is how do they get back to their home station.”

Bases in Italy, Spain and Germany have played the primary role in the early stages of Operation United Assistance, providing troops and aircraft being sent to the region and providing refueling stops. But as these nations’ governments respond to public fears over spread of the virus, some have tightened restrictions.

In Spain, where the deaths of a priest infected by Ebola lead to sharp criticism of health officials, the Defense Ministry reiterated its requirement for tight control over aircrews refueling at bases in Rota and Moron.

Spain’s defense minister told parliament on Wednesday that even with the mandatory quarantine of U.S. troops announced this week, the country’s bases “would not be an evacuation zone to rest troops.”

Troops who deployed from the U.S. Army post in Vicenza, Italy, are returning to the same installation — where they are kept in quarantine for 21 days, the maximum time Ebola symptoms can show in an infected person. Italian officials have said they will not accept returning troops who originally deployed from outside the country, several defense officials said.

Germany has given little indication about its expectations for flights and personnel moving through the country. Besides air crews operating out of Ramstein Air Base WHO WILL spend little, if any, time near locals in the Ebola-affected zones, it was unclear whether any troops had deployed from bases in the country.

Efforts to reach Djiboutian officials on the eventual return of the Seabee team to Camp Lemonnier were unsuccessful. A Pentagon spokeswoman would say only that team members, who have been doing survey work for a series of treatment centers in Liberia, “will observe a 21-day controlled monitoring period in a place pre-approved and coordinated for their arrival.”

The defense official familiar with discussions said the military was waiting for countries to begin clarifying their positions after the quarantine announcement.

“There are some rules which we have to be able to work with our host-nation officials so we can come to a mutual agreement on how we move forward while respecting their desires,” he said.

Meanwhile, public sentiment on the disease is changing daily with changing perceptions of the risk.

Katharina Ahrens, a spokeswoman for the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, which advises the German government on health and disease issues, said concerns over Ebola and its possible spread through travel have just begun to pick up in the country.

“It’s been a really big conversation in the past couple of days, actually,” she said. “There’s been a lot of press coverage, TV coverage, because people are worried. And they’ve been calling (us) and saying, ‘What if someone spits on a 1-euro [coin] and hands it to me?’”

beardsley.steven@stripes.com Twitter: @sjbeardsley

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