UPDATED 8 a.m. Oct. 2 — A patient is in isolation at an Oahu hospital and being evaluated for possible infection with the Ebola virus, the Hawaii Health Department confirmed Wednesday.
UPDATE: On Thursday morning, state health officials said the patient did not “meet the criteria for testing” and was no longer being evaluated for Ebola.
“The hospital acted in the best interests of the community, with an abundance of caution,” state health director Dr. Linda Rosen said in a press release. “We commend the facility for being prepared and remaining vigilant regarding the risk of Ebola. After investigation by the health department, it was determined that the individual did not meet the clinical or travel exposure criteria for an Ebola infection.”
The measures being taken Wednesday night were precautionary and there were no current plans to test the patient for the virus, said Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the health department, noting that the patient’s symptoms could be caused by a number of different illnesses.
“At this point, we don’t feel that people should be alarmed at the situation,” said Okubo. “We are going to continue our evaluation and certainly we will put out information when we have information about the situation.”
Sources in the health care community tell Civil Beat that the individual was admitted to Queen’s Hospital. The Hawaii Nurses Association also confirmed that the person is being treated at Queen’s,according to KHON.
However, Cedric Yamanaka, a spokesman for the health care facility, said he couldn’t confirm or deny the reports.
“Queen’s is bound by patient confidentiality and cannot share any information regarding the status of any of our patients,” he said in a statement to Civil Beat.
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles, in blue, budding from a chronically infected VERO E6 cell, in yellow-green.
National Institutes of Health
Yamanaka said that the hospital has been preparing if such a case were to occur.
“In a hypothetical, if an event like this were to happen, the patient would be placed into an isolation room and staff and employees would be fully protected and we would be ready to offer treatment,” he said.
On Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control confirmed that a man had been diagnosed with Ebola at a Texas hospital, marking the first confirmed case of the virus in the United States. Eric Duncan, a Monrovian resident took a commercial flight from Liberia to Dallas last month and later developed symptoms of the virus.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had initially sent Duncan home with antibiotics when he went to the emergency room complaining of symptoms, according to national news reports. He returned a few days later with worsening symptoms and was admitted to the hospital. Health officials have expressed confidence in their ability to make sure the virus doesn’t spread.
West Africa is currently grappling with the largest outbreak of Ebola in history. As of the end of September there were 6,574 confirmed cases of the virus and 3,091 deaths, according to the CDC. The virus has raged unchecked in countries including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where health officials have struggled to treat the volume of patients. However, in Nigeria the disease is believed to be contained, marking a significant victory in efforts to control the spread of the virus, the CDC said this week.
Concerned that the virus will spread to the United States given the volume of international travel, hospitals and health departments throughout the country have been preparing to treat Ebola patients.
Okubo noted that other states have also been presented with Ebola scares, where a patient has a fever and recently traveled in West Africa. However, except for the Texas case, they have been false alarms.
The CDC has received 94 reports from states about suspected Ebola cases, but most were ruled out after further evaluation of the patients, according to national reports. Of the 13 patients actually tested for the virus, only the man in Dallas tested positive.
“There are a lot of illnesses that do cause fever, especially when traveling in Africa,” said Okubo. “It could potentially be malaria, the flu or a number of different illnesses.”
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