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Doctor in New York Hospital Diagnosed With Ebola After Return From Africa

CDC issues update

A hospitalized physician who had volunteered in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic, and since returned to the U.S. has tested positive for Ebola, according to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The patient has been notified of the test results and remains in isolation, according to the CDC. He is currently at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Bellevue Hospital is one of eight New York State hospitals that Governor Andrew Cuomo has designated to treat Ebola patients. A specially trained CDC team determined earlier this week that the hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to treat Ebola patients.

Confirmation testing at the CDC’s laboratory will be conducted. The physician had returned through JFK Airport on October 17 and had participated in the enhanced screening for all returning travelers from these countries. At that time, he did not have a fever or other symptoms of illness. The patient reported a fever to local health officials for the first time on October 23. He was transported by a specially trained hazardous material tactical (Haz Tac) unit wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to Bellevue.

Three people who had close contact with the patient were quarantined for observation. The doctor's fiancée was among them and was quarantined at the same hospital, and all three were still healthy, officials said.

The CDC is in close communication with the New York City Health Department and with Bellevue Hospital, and is providing technical assistance and resources. Three members of the agency’s Ebola Response Team have arrived in New York City. This team is deployed when an Ebola case is identified in the U.S. or when health officials have a strong suspicion that a patient has Ebola pending lab results, the CDC says.

In addition, the CDC already had a team of Ebola experts in New York City who could offer immediate additional support. The CDC experts were in the city assessing hospital readiness to receive Ebola patients, including Bellevue Hospital.

The CDC’s Ebola hospital assessment teams are designed to make sure that hospitals that have volunteered to take Ebola patients are “Ebola ready.”

These teams determine whether there are gaps in a facility’s infection-control readiness, and they support the facility in developing a comprehensive infection-control plan. The principle is to be ready for the patient coming in the front door and for everything that happens through the patient’s stay in the hospital, the CDC says. The multidisciplinary team of experts includes infection-control practice specialists, PPE specialists, worker safety experts, clinical care and diagnostics experts, and laboratory processes experts.

New York City and New York State have designated Bellevue as an Ebola treatment hospital. The CDC team, which had completed its assessment of Bellevue, found the facility to be well prepared to care for a patient with Ebola.

So far, four Ebola cases have been diagnosed in the U.S.: a Liberian man, who died on October 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas; two nurses who treated him there; and the physician in New York City.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person or through exposure to objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-to 10-day incubation period (although this period could range from 2 to 21 days). The CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms for a complete 21 days.

Sources: Reuters; October 24, 2014; and CDC; October 23, 2014.

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