NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A patient at Mount Sinai Hospital was under treatment Monday afternoon, after being tested following a trip to a country where the Ebola virus is present, the hospital said in a statement.
As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the man arrived at the East Harlem medical center’s emergency room early Monday morning with high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms. The man told doctors he had recently traveled to a West African country where Ebola has been reported, the hospital said.
Web Extra: Hospital Officials Address Ebola Concerns
The man was placed into “strict isolation” within seven minutes of his arrival, and was undergoing various tests to determine the cause of the symptoms late Monday, the hospital said.
“The patient was promptly isolated and placed in a strict isolation facility at Mount Sinai, such that we could protect the patient and also any staff and other patients in the facility and all visitors,” said Mount Sinai Hospital President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. David Reich. “We are very confident that our work with the federal, state and local authorities will lead to a prompt evaluation of this patient, and that we’ll be able to hopefully find a more common cause of fever and the other symptoms that this patient has.”
At a news conference early Monday evening, Mount Sinai Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeremy Boal said it was not likely that the patient was suffering from Ebola.
“The first thing that we’d like to stress is that odds are this is not Ebola,” Boal said. “It’s much more likely that it’s a much more common condition, and we’re ruling those things out as well.”
He said specimens have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control, and hospital officials hope to identify the disease in 24 to 48 hours.
Reich said officials do not feel it necessary to do testing on anyone who has come in contact with the patient, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
Boal and Reich declined to release information on the patient.
Doctors said the virus is contagious and is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from a sick person. Ebola can’t be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.
But as WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, the news still had some going into the hospital a bit nervous.
“Just because we don’t know so much about it,” said Tom Quinn, whose wife was having surgery. “I guess hopefully they are taking the proper precautions.”
“The case with the man from Africa — a lot of people travel to New York, of course it’s a melting pot,” said Anthony Abbate. “It’s very possible.”
Susan Abdul told Jones she’s not all that worried.
“All we have to do is stay vigilant,” she said. “Let the authorities do what they have to do.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization announced Monday that the death toll has increased from 729 to 887 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, CBS News reported. Most of the newly reported deaths occurred in Liberia.
Officials in Liberia have ordered the remains of victims to be cremated to prevent further infection.
As CBS News’ Omar Villafranca reported, the WHO reported there are now as many as 1,600 cases of Ebola in West Africa in total.
A group of Americans was set to head to Africa Monday to fight the deadly disease.
“I think of it this way — I think that if we have a dangerous war going on at a distant shore, our soldiers don’t say, ‘Hey, we’re scared, we’re not going to go,’” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia of Boston University Medical School, one of the Americans going.
American doctor Kent Brantly, who contracted the virus in Liberia, was said to be making progress Monday. He arrived at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday, and wearing a full protective suit, he surprised doctors walking into his specially-designed isolated treatment room.
“The fact that he’s able to walk into the hospital is a very, very good sign,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health.
Brantly’s fellow infected aid worker, Nancy Writebol, has left Liberia and was expected to arrive at Emory’s isolation unit Tuesday.
“The room is really designed to provide ICU-level care for critically ill patients, as well as have a surrounding infrastructure that really contains any potential pathogens,” said Dr. Jay Varkey of Emory University Hospital.
Both Writebol and Brantly have received doses of an experimental serum, but doctors have not said if the serum is helping.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that it will evaluate any travelers with signs of dangerous infectious diseases and isolate them when necessary.
U.S. health officials last week also warned Americans not to travel to the three West African countries hit by the outbreak of Ebola.
The purpose of the travel warning is to not only protect U.S. travelers, but limit their use of overburdened clinics and hospitals for injuries or other illnesses, he said.
The current outbreak is the largest since the disease first emerged in Africa nearly 40 years ago.
There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, but a vaccine is set to begin human trials next month. So far, the vaccine has shown success in monkeys.
For more information on Ebola from the CDC, click here.
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