Kaiser South Sacramento testing patient for possible Ebola

08/19/2014 6:32 PM

10/08/2014 12:14 PM

Fears of an Ebola outbreak in the United States hit home Tuesday as health officials announced that a patient at a Sacramento hospital was being tested for the virus that has killed an estimated 1,200 people in west Africa.

Doctors at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center took a blood sample from the patient that was subsequently sent by the Sacramento County Public Health Laboratory to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

It will take several days to get the results and to determine whether the patient, who may have been exposed to Ebola, has the virus, according to a statement from the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.

In a statement, Dr. Stephen M. Parodi, infectious diseases specialist at Kaiser, said the patient is being kept in isolation in a specially equipped negative pressure room, and staff are using protective equipment. The health provider released no other details, including whether the patient had recently traveled to a west African nation or whether there were symptoms of the virus.

“The safety of our members, patients and staff is our highest priority. Our physicians and infectious disease experts are working closely with local and state public health agencies to monitor developments and share information,” Parodi said in a statement.

It appeared to be the first case of Ebola testing in California during the current epidemic and one of only a handful in the nation, according to public health officials and media reports. As of Aug. 13, none of those tested in the U.S. – in areas including Atlanta, Ohio and New York – have actually had the disease, according to the CDC.

A woman in New Mexico, who recently returned from Sierra Leone, remains in quarantine awaiting test results that should arrive this week, officials said.

Just 11 days ago, California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman issued a statement saying no patients had required testing for Ebola in California.

“While the risk is low, state and local public health officials in California are monitoring the situation closely and taking steps to keep Californians safe,” Chapman said. If Ebola cases emerge in the United States, they would still pose little threat to the larger public, Chapman said.

“Our advanced health care system has appropriate protocols in place to prevent the spread of this often deadly disease,” he said.

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