Sacramento health officials say Ebola test results of patient to come back in three days

Sacramento patient’s Ebola test results to come in three days, health officials say

By Cynthia H. Craft
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 – 2:24 pm

With the West African outbreak of Ebola escalating, state public health officials said Wednesday they were not surprised that the deadly virus may have reached Sacramento in the case of a patient who recently returned from a trip to one of the stricken nations.

The patient, held in isolation at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, is considered at risk – albeit at “low risk” – of having the disease and possibly carrying it back to the capital region, state officials said.

California’s potential “Patient Zero” is isolated in a specially equipped room that’s required in all hospitals statewide to help curb the spread of serious communicable diseases. The hospital’s staff members are taking precautions to ensure their safety, wearing protective clothing, gloves, shoes and face masks.

Blood drawn from the patient was shipped by air Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and results are expected in three days, said Gil Chavez, a senior epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health.

“Californians travel to all parts of the world, so we were not surprised to find a possible case here,” Chavez said. “We knew it was a matter of time before we had a case in California.”

Nevertheless, he said, “It is unlikely that Ebola presents a significant risk to Californians,” in large part because U.S. hospitals are far better equipped to treat Ebola victims and nurture them back to health.

Hospitals in 27 states have notified the CDC of at least 68 cases nationwide that may involve the Ebola virus, the CDC reported. They include a New Mexico woman isolated at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque and patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Maryland and an undisclosed hospital in Ohio.

Still, the health crisis in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria is much more fearsome. Of those who have been sickened by the virus in the region, 55 percent to 60 percent have died. Like an uncontrollable wildfire, the disease has followed a fierce and unpredictable path, expanding into the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.

Already this year more than 1,200 people in West Africa have perished of Ebola, a frightening virus that causes unexplained bleeding, fever, headache, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea so severe that many victims have died of dehydration. By comparison, the United States has not counted a single death from Ebola.

The notorious virus can be contracted by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an ailing person. Nasal spray from a sneeze, as well as blood, vomit, sweat, spittle, bodily wastes, and fluids from sexual intercourse can spread Ebola. The virus, considered zoonotic because it passes from animals to humans, often is passed along to humans by fruit bats, a routine part of the diet for some West Africans.

In the absence of a living host, however, the virus perishes quickly.

“This is not a hardy virus,” Chavez said. “Touching things is not a problem once contaminated areas are cleaned up.”

Guidelines drawn up by the World Health Organization said people in Africa and elsewhere can halt the virus’ spread by disinfecting surfaces with ordinary household bleach, soap and clean water and sterilizing exposed items in boiling water for 20 minutes. The CDC has released specific guidelines for airline crews, including their cleaning and cargo personnel. Airlines are required to isolate as best they can passengers who seem sick and feverish.

Thomas Frieden, who heads the CDC, described in a New England Journal of Medicine article released Wednesday some of the procedures the organization is promoting to help stop the spread of Ebola. One tactic Frieden suggests is a campaign to provide West Africans with affordable protein sources as alternatives to bush meat.

The CDC has stationed dozens of Western health workers in West Africa to aid local caregivers and assist in the effort to track down people who may have come into contact with Ebola-sickened residents. Concurrently, the CDC has issued a travel warning advising Americans to postpone nonessential trips to the West African nations.

In particular, Frieden noted that with “extensive mobility and air travel in West Africa, Ebola could reach other countries. Each month, several thousand travelers from affected areas enter the United States.”

He urged U.S. clinicians to take a travel history of anyone who appears ill with Ebola-like symptoms and promptly isolate and test those who have returned from the West African regions in the past 21 days.

“We are also assisting the four affected countries to improve their exit-screening protocols to help protect the rest of the world, including the United States,” he wrote. At many airports in West Africa, passengers are being screened for fevers before they are permitted to travel.

As for the local traveler who recently returned to Sacramento from a trip to West Africa, his or her identity will remain secret due to privacy laws. State officials also refused to release information on the patient’s age, gender or ethnicity.

With Sacramento having a such famously diverse population, state authorities also refused to release the name of the country the patient visited.

Dr. James Watt, chief of communicable disease control for the state, said if the destination nation were revealed, there would likely be a corresponding community here that would be able to identify the patient.

If the blood test comes back positive for Ebola, however, public health workers will fan out across the county, if need be, to find others who may have come into contact with the patient. Then, each of them will be examined for signs of illness, tested and possibly isolated if an Ebola infection appears likely.

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  • theunhivedmind

    Ebola Suspect Tested In California: Statements From Kaiser Permanente And Dept Of Public Health

    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/20/2014 07:59 -0400

    With the Ebola epidemic raging in west-Africa, and increasingly more countries paranoid, with good reason, the epidemic may enter to their borders, the worst case scenario so far for the US has been avoided: namely an Ebola patient zero arriving on US shores. That may have changed overnight when CBS13 reported that a patient admitted to Kaiser Permanente may have been exposed to the Ebola virus, and test are currently being done to determine whether the virus is present. Shortly thereafter, the California Department of Public Health released a statement late Tuesday saying it had no confirmed cases of Ebola in the state, but that a patient it describes as low-risk was being tested in Sacramento.

    According to CBS, the unidentified patient was admitted to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, and they have been placed in isolation. Outside of a written statement, the hospital has remained tight-lipped on orders from the administration, refusing to go on camera, and increasing its security presence. Public health officials from Sacramento County have remained silent on the issue.

    The CDC has said that 60 people from California have been tested so far, with 10 of those tests being sent to the CDC for further review. All 10 of those tests came back negative. Hopefully this time will not be different.

    With the test expected to take several days to complete, the US should know sometime around Friday whether or not whether Ebola has finally arrived in the US as well.

    More from the report:

    The medical center emphasizes all measures are being taken to protect the staff, and that the samples have been sent to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, who will test them. The tests are expected to take several days to complete.

    Still, patients leaving Kaiser said no one told them about the possibility of an Ebola patient inside the hospital they had just left.

    “I’m speechless; I had no idea,” said Diane Brock. Another patient leaving the emergency room agreed with that sentiment.

    “They should let us know that and take better care of it,” she said. “If I got a virus from here, and took that home, I”d be upset.”

    The CDC has told CBS13 that 60 people from California have been tested, with 10 of those tests being sent to the CDC for further review. All 10 of those tests came back negative.

    A similar case happened in New York earlier this month, where a patient who recently visited West Africa was tested for the disease at Mount Sinai Hospital. Those tests came back negative.

    More than 1,200 people have been killed by the virus in West Africa.

    Below is the full statement from Dr. Stephen M. Parodi, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Director of Hospital Operations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

    We are working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health regarding a patient admitted to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus.

    In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease. This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists. This enables the medical center to provide care in a setting that safeguards other patients and medical teams.

    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.

    And the statement from the California Department of Public Health

    CDPH Reports No Confirmed Cases of Ebola in the State

    Low-risk patient tested out of an abundance of caution

    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working with local health departments and health care providers statewide to identify patients who have traveled to countries affected by Ebola. CDPH is directing health providers to follow protocols established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the diagnosis and treatment of these patients. People returning from the affected areas who may be at high risk for Ebola should be isolated and their blood sent to CDC for testing. Some low-risk patients, like the one from Sacramento, may be tested out of an abundance of caution. CDPH works with local health departments and hospitals to arrange for proper specimen shipment and Ebola virus confirmatory testing.

    There are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola in California. There have been no patients admitted to California hospitals who are considered to be at high risk of Ebola according to CDC criteria.

    If a person has travelled to an affected country and develops a fever within three weeks of their return, they should contact their health care provider and let the provider know of their travel history.

    The risk of the spread of Ebola in California is low. Any patient suspected of having Ebola can be safely managed in a California hospital following recommended isolation and infection control procedures. Suspect cases of Ebola will be investigated by local health departments in consultation with CDPH.

    State and local public health officials in California are monitoring the situation closely and taking steps to keep Californians safe. Our advanced health care system has appropriate protocols in place to prevent the spread of this often deadly disease.

    Ebola is an infectious disease caused by the Ebola virus. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure and include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and abnormal bleeding. It is classified as a viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) because of the fever and abnormal bleeding. Among the VHFs, Ebola is feared because of its high mortality. There are no specific treatments but supportive therapy can be provided to address bleeding and other complications.

    For more information about Ebola, please visit CDPH’s website.

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