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CBS 2 Exclusive: Man Isolated Over Ebola Scare Likely Was Suffering From Malaria

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Eric Silverman of Brooklyn was quarantined for three days at Mount Sinai Hospital in East Harlem, amid fears that he might be suffering from the Ebola virus.

As Matt Kozar reported Monday, CBS 2 was there when Silverman found out what made him so sick upon returning from West Africa.

“They think it’s still just malaria,” Silverman said.

CBS 2 met up with Silverman after he met on Monday with an infectious disease doctor.

“I had malaria in February after I came back from working with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone,” he said.

Malaria can stay dormant in the liver, and Silverman said doctors think it resurfaced in his body last week.

“I’ve been taking a lot of medicine, and so that kind of might have interfered, and so they couldn’t spot any malaria in my blood work, but it could still be there,” Silverman said.

Because the flulike symptoms of malaria resemble Ebola, and because the Brooklyn native had just returned from a humanitarian aid trip to Sierra Leone where the virus is spreading, doctors quarantined him for 72 hours last week at Mount Sinai.

He said he knew he was the “Ebola Patient Zero” the country was talking about as he watched the news in his isolation room.

“Anyone can be in West Africa and you know, 12 hours later they can be in the U.S.,” Silverman said. “So I think it’s important that the virus is contained in West Africa before it starts spreading.”

In an earlier interview on Sunday, Silverman told Kozar about the experience of being in isolation.

“There were two security guards outside of my room, and they were like, ‘no one in or out,’” Silverman said.

It took hospital staff seven minutes from the time Silverman hit the emergency room doors to when he was in isolation.

“There was one nurse and one doctor, and they had to be fully dressed in the space suits,” he said. “They said take all your clothes off, anything in your pockets.”

Doctors bagged his clothes and burned his underwear, Kozar reported.

At one point while watching the news in his room, Silverman said he asked the nurse if he was the patient the country was talking about.

“I was like, ‘Is that me?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I’m pretty sure,’” Silverman said.

But despite his medical odyssey, Silverman plans to return to Sierra Leone one day and use what he has learned to make a difference. Passionate about international issues, Silverman will begin a master’s program next month at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

“Those poor countries in West Africa are not — they don’t have the resources to deal with it alone,” Silverman said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said six people in the United States have been tested for Ebola since the West African outbreak erupted this year and all results were negative.

The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever that has killed nearly 1,000 people — mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa 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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