A man in New York City was tested for Ebola after traveling to West Africa. The news comes shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it will send 50 staffers to the region over the next month to combat the deadly outbreak.
Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan performed tests on the male patient with high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, the hospital said in a statement.
He arrived in the emergency room Monday morning, and had previously traveled to one of the West African countries where Ebola has been reported.
“All necessary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff. We will continue to work closely with federal, state and city health officials to address and monitor this case, keep the community informed and provide the best quality care to all of our patients,” the hospital wrote in a statement.
ABC News’ Dr. Richard Besser cautioned that the patient may not have Ebola, but said the hospital is taking the correct steps by following CDC recommendations and placing the man in strict isolation, according to WABC-TV, “Many things cause fever and gastrointestinal symptoms,” he said. “The steps they are taking are wise given the travel history, but nothing about the symptoms is specific to Ebola.”
By a Monday evening press conference, however, Mt. Sinai officials concluded, “Odds are it’s not Ebola.” The hospital is still testing specimens from the patient for common causes of illness.
“It’s much more likely that this is a much more common condition,” said Dr. Jeremy Boal, the hospital’s chief medical officer.
As the CDC prepares to send at least 50 staff members to the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ‒ where the outbreak is occurring ‒ some fear that Ebola could spread to the US.
“There is always the possibility that someone with an infectious disease can enter the United States,” CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said Monday. “The public health concern is whether it would spread, and, if so, how quickly.”
At least 826 people have died since the beginning of the year, and over 1,440 have been infected in the three countries, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization. Ebola, which causes severe hemorrhaging, has a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent. It is spread by direct contact with the blood and other bodily fluids of infected animals or people.