Health officials at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan are on alert after a man walked into the emergency room complaining of high fever and stomach pains. The man admitted that he had recently come back from a trip to a West African nation currently battling Ebola, and was immediately placed in quarantine pending results of a blood test being done by the CDC. Results are expected to take 24-48 hours.
According to the CDC, the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has already claimed the lives of 887 people. Two Americans with the disease have been transferred a special isolation unit at Emory University in Atlanta, where they are (reportedly) responding well to an experimental drug called ZMapp, developed by Mapp Pharmaceuticals Inc. of San Diego, CA.
In the meantime, a spokesman for Mt. Sinai, Sid Dinsay stressed that it was “more than likely that the patient did not have Ebola, and that people who had come in casual contact, including those in the ER, were not at risk.”
Unlike SARS and other communicable diseases, the Ebola virus is not airborne. As a result, infection is only transmitted through direct contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids and waste. Initial symptoms generally appear as sudden onset fever, intense fatigue and weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, progressing to vomiting, diarrhea, rash, kidney and liver malfunction, and (in some cases) internal bleeding.
Mt. Sinai president David Reich and Dr. Jeremy Boal, the hospital’s chief medical officer spoke at a news conference yesterday to assure residents of New York City and surrounding areas that the staff there had been preparing for the possibility of someone showing up with Ebola and were “well equipped to handle their care.” In the meantime, federal agents at US airports are monitoring travelers from Africa for flu-like conditions, especially at JFK International Airport and Dulles International Airport in Washington DC as delegations from 50 countries arrive in our nation’s capital for a leadership summit this week.