New Ebola Patient In Atlanta: Health Care Worker Was Possibly Exposed To Virus In West Africa

A possible new Ebola patient arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, Thursday where he will be treated at Emory University Hospital. The patient’s name has not been released, but he is said to be an American health care worker who participated in treating Ebola cases in West Africa.

The potential Ebola patient was transported to Atlanta on a Phoenix Air medical transport plane, the same type of aircraft that has transported previous Ebola cases. But doctors say that while they believe the patient may have been exposed to the Ebola virus while in West Africa, conclusive tests have not yet been performed.

Emory University Hospital is one of 35 medical facilities in the United States now set up to treat potential Ebola cases.

At Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston — a facility not included in the 35 authorized Ebola treatment centers — a patient who became ill and has recently arrived from Liberia was tested for Ebola and came up clean. While doctors at Mass General say that the also-unnamed male patient will be retested to be certain that the Ebola virus is not present, the patient tested positive instead for malaria, which appears to be the cause of his symptoms.

Nonetheless, health officials in Boston say that the patient, who is reportedly in good spirits despite the crippling illness, remains under close monitoring in an Ebola isolation ward at Mass General.

Unlike the new patient in Atlanta, the Boston patient was not a health care worker, and is not believed to have dealt directly with any individuals infected with Ebola while in Liberia.

Of the 10 Ebola patients so far treated in the United States, four have received their treatment at Emory University Hospital, all of them surviving the disease. Only two Ebola patients have died in the United States, both of them new arrivals from West Africa.

The first patient, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, was the first Ebola case in the U.S. and died due to to delays in treating him after Texas health care workers misdiagnosed his case. The second fatality was a doctor who had treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, Martin Salia, whose case was already in an advanced state when he arrived at a hospital in Nebraska, and could not be saved.

Ebola in America became a major source of media hysteria and even a political campaign issue in the weeks leading up to the November 4 midterm elections, but since those elections, very little mention of the deadly outbreak, which has now killed more than 6,000 in West Africa, has crept into public discussion in the United States.

The new Ebola patient in Atlanta got to Emory University Hospital at 5:45 a.m. Thursday, and was undergoing tests to determine whether or not he actually had Ebola.