(KPIX) — A patient is being examined for possible exposure to the Ebola virus at Kaiser South Sacramento, according to hospital officials, who are not disclosing when or where the patient could have been exposed to the deadly pathogen.
Dr. Stephen Parodi, a specialist on infectious diseases confirmed the patient is being isolated in a “negative pressure room” – to limit any possible risk while the case is being examined, and samples are being sent for testing, although that could take several days.
Parodi said in a statement, “In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to rule out any exposure to the deadly African virus that causes hemorrhagic fever, killing 90 percent of those infected. The Ebola virus is not airborne, and is only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.
The CDC tells KPIX 5’s Andria Borba they’ve received 60 reports of potential exposure since the outbreak began, but only received 10 actual samples to test. A similar incident occurred in New York, but the tests turned out negative.
The potential of an exposed patient in Northern California comes as the on-going outbreak in West Africa has killed over 1200 people according to the World Health Organization. The outbreak began in Guinea and spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Anyone sick or exposed to those who are sick have faced quarantines and travel restrictions, sometimes extending across an entire village or county.
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Three U.S. aid workers were in quarantine in Charlotte, North Carolina to make sure they did not become exposed to Ebola while in Liberia. The virus can have a 21-day incubation period. After that period, doctors feel safe to release the patient, knowing with reasonable certainty the virus did not infect the individual.
In Atlanta, another American, Nancy Writebol, is one of two other citizens who did contract Ebola. Her husband was put into quarantine, but has now been released and is with his wife, although separated by sealed glass. David Writebol says her health has been improving daily.
The second confirmed American Ebola victim is Dr. Kent Brantly, and like Writebol, his health is also improving. Both patients have received doses of an experimental antiviral drug called ZMapp given to them at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.
The experimental drug had been tested on monkeys but never humans until the two patients gave their consent. San Diego-based biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. makes the treatment.
The FDA allows for such rare exceptions of unapproved drugs in life-or-death situations, with patients’ informed consent.
CBS NEWS: Complete Ebola Coverage
COMPLETE EBOLA INFORMATION: CDC Ebola Virus Information
FULL STATEMENT: Dr. Stephen M. Parodi, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Director of Hospital Operations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California
“We are working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health regarding a patient admitted to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus.
In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease. This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists. This enables the medical center to provide care in a setting that safeguards other patients and medical teams.
The safety of our members, patients and staff is our highest priority. Our physicians and infectious disease experts are working closely with local and state public health agencies to monitor developments and share information.”
KPIX 5’s Andria Borba will have more on this developing story at 10 p.m. Tuesday.