Preliminary Negative Result For Ebola; Liberian Traveler Still Isolated At Duke Hospital

Duke University Health System and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced tonight that a traveler from Liberia is being monitored for fever and tested for Ebola virus infection. Photo credit: Duke University HospitalForbes – by David Kroll

Update, 8:54 am EST, Monday, November 3: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting this hour that tests conducted by the State Laboratory of Public Health returned negative result for Ebola virus in a blood sample taken from a patient, described below, who was transported to Duke University Hospital on Sunday. The patient self-reported to the CDC that they developed a fever after traveling to the U.S. from Liberia on Friday and Saturday.  

This negative result will be followed by another test at 72 hours after the patient developed the fever, most likely on Wednesday morning with results expected late Wednesday or early Thursday.

According to Bill Fulkerson, MD, executive vice president of the Duke University Health System, the patient will continue to be managed as he has since his admission:

Until Ebola infection is definitively ruled out, the patient will remain under care in a completely contained, isolated and secured unit at Duke University Hospital and all other aspects of our comprehensive infection control plan remain in place.

The patient’s care team at DUH has undergone extensive training over the past several weeks in caring for such a patient. This patient is being cared for in a separate unit with no other patients, and staff caring for these patients will have no other patient contact during this time. The team has received hours of training in the proper use of personal protective equipment to prevent their exposure to the virus.

Original article, 10:06 pm EST, Sunday, November 2

A male patient, age unknown, was transported on Sunday to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and is being tested this evening for Ebola virus infection.

The individual flew into Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday after traveling from Liberia through an unknown destination, then traveled to the Durham area on a commercial bus, according Aldona Wos, MD, secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

On Saturday, the individual was picked up by a relative and taken to the family’s home in Person County, north of Durham. After spiking a fever this morning, temperature unknown, the individual was transported to Duke Hospital and is currently isolated in a contained unit designated previously during training as the site for treatment of a potential Ebola patient.

Results will be available sometime on Monday morning.

William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, executive vice president of the Duke University Health System said tonight in an official statement to Duke faculty, staff, and students:

Despite not knowing the patient’s Ebola status, we are approaching this as though it was a confirmed case.  Therefore, the patient is being cared for in the same contained, isolated and secured unit within DUH in which an actual Ebola patient would be treated.   The patient is receiving care from a seasoned team of Duke clinical professionals who volunteered for this service and have trained extensively for this possibility.  We have anticipated this scenario for several weeks now, and a plan to manage it is in place.

At present, the patient only has a fever, “but has no other symptoms of Ebola.”

The individual had been monitoring their temperature as instructed in customs and border patrol and, upon detecting a fever this morning, called the CDC line and they immediately called the [North Carolina] Division of Public Health, said chief state epidemiologist, Megan Davies, MD, MPH. Dr. Davies has experience in tracking emerging diseases from her two-year stint as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer in the New Orleans area from 1998 to 2000.

DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos opened the press conference with a lengthy statement as to how well-prepared Governor Pat McCrory is regarding the potential Ebola case. Wos indicated that the governor had spoken with New Jersey governor Christie this evening, presumably about contact tracing on the flight that arrived in Newark yesterday.

Dr. Wos seemed thrown off by a question about how the patient got to North Carolina from Newark. When she responded that it was a commercial bus, an unnamed official abruptly called the press conference to a close.

Before being interrupted, Dr. Wos said, “This person did not have symptoms on bus. This person has not been diagnosed with any specific condition yet.”

The Associated Press and other press outlets have agreed not to report on suspected cases of Ebola in the United States until a positive viral RNA test is completed. But I’m covering tonight’s announcement of a potential Ebola case because it has been reported in my area, and at Duke University Medical Center, an institution where I hold an unpaid adjunct associate professor appointment in their Department of Medicine.

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