Suspected Ebola patient admitted to California hospital

By Reuters/Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan 29 (Reuters) – A patient suspected of contracting Ebola after traveling in West Africa and exhibiting symptoms of the disease was admitted on Thursday to a special isolation hospital unit in Sacramento and was being tested for infection, officials said.

The patient was considered at a relatively low risk of infection. Although recently in an area where Ebola transmission is widespread, the person had no known contact with anyone who has had the disease, said Laura McCasland, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Public Health Department.

McCasland said she did not know precisely where or when the patient had traveled in West Africa, the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, or why the individual was there or for how long.

The patient was transferred on Thursday morning to the University of California-Davis Medical Center from Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, and was later listed in good condition, the medical center said in statements.

The hospital said the patient was admitted after exhibiting "symptoms consistent with Ebola infection," but did not elaborate.

Hospital spokeswoman Dorsey Griffith said the patient was being tested for infection.

She declined to specify the symptoms exhibited but said they were serious enough "that the patient was admitted as a suspected Ebola patient." The individual was being treated in a special Ebola isolation unit at the hospital, she said.

State epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez said in a separate statement that an Ebola diagnosis had not been confirmed.

"Whenever there is a person displaying symptoms that may be Ebola, who has recently traveled to Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, certain precautions are taken, including isolating the patient, ruling out other infectious diseases and testing for Ebola if warranted," he said.

The patient was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center because that facility had been designated as a "priority hospital" for evaluating and treating potential Ebola patients, the hospital said. The medical center remained open and was operating as normal, it said.

At least 10 people are known to have been treated for Ebola in the United States, four of whom were diagnosed with the deadly disease on U.S. soil, during a West African epidemic that has taken at least 8,800 lives, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Only two people are known to have contracted the virus in the United States – two nurses who treated an Ebola patient from Liberia who became sick while visiting in Dallas. That man, Thomas Duncan, later died.

Dozens of others tested for Ebola in the United States after showing possible signs of the disease or thought to have been exposed to the virus have turned out not to have been infected. (Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler, Eric Walsh and Peter Cooney)

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