The Ebola outbreak continues, but not in Sacramento. So keep calm, everyone. Health officials announced Thursday night that a Sacramento patient feared to have Ebola has tested negative for the virus. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Health, said in a press release:
“We are pleased with the negative outcome of the Ebola test and wish the patient a speedy recovery. The case in Sacramento County demonstrates that the system is working. This patient was quickly identified, appropriate infection control procedures were implemented and public health authorities were notified.”
The suspected Ebola patient’s identification has been withheld. He or she developed Ebola symptoms after returning from West Africa, where the Ebola epidemic began.
A woman from New Mexico recently developed some Ebola symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, and headache after returning from Sierra Leone. Time reports that she is currently being kept in isolation “out of an abundance of caution” while her Ebola tests are being analyzed.
Fears of further Ebola cases have restricted travel in West Africa. South Africa, for example, announced that “all non citizens traveling there from three of the [ Ebola ] virus-stricken countries will be turned away.”
Travelers from Ebola “high-risk” countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone) will be subject to strict screening for symptoms of the disease. Ebola “medium-risk” countries include Kenya and Ethiopia.
According to UpToDate, a medical reference used by physicians worldwide, clinical findings consistent with Ebola include:
“[F]ever of greater than 38.6C (101.5F) and additional signs or symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage.”
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the testing of people who have Ebola symptoms and have had a possible exposure to Ebola virus within 21 days prior to the onset of symptoms.
The CDC also reports that while it is still unclear how Ebola virus is spread, you can protect yourself by wearing protective clothing (masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles), using infection control measures (sterilization and routine disinfectant), and avoiding contact with Ebola patients (duh). Also, don’t travel to West Africa.
Without exposure to the Ebola virus, you will not get Ebola disease. So if you have a fever, cramping, and diarrhea without exposure to Ebola virus, you don’t have Ebola disease. It is much more likely you have a simple viral diarrhea that you picked up from your neighbor’s kid. Either way, check with your physician if you’re worried.
So avoid Ebola virus (shouldn’t be hard in the U.S.) and use your head.
[Image courtesy of ABC News ]