A man who recently traveled to Liberia was admitted to Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood this week with no Ebola-like symptoms but has been placed under quarantine, hospital officials said Wednesday.
The unidentified man, who officials said was admitted to the hospital Tuesday night, is the latest such case in the U.S. amid heightened screening and other measures put in place to prevent the virus from spreading.
A spokesman for the Inglewood hospital told the Los Angeles Times early Wednesday that the man did not have Ebola. But in a statement issued later in the day, the hospital staff said they were still awaiting test results to be confirmed, and that the patient remained in isolation.
Since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa in December, there have been seven other instances in Los Angeles County in which patients were initially deemed to potentially have Ebola. Patients are quarantined until tests are completed.
In the unlikely event that someone does test positive for the virus, local health officials on Tuesday assured the public that they’re ready.
“I have very high confidence that we are prepared to respond to a case of Ebola should it occur ... and that our collective efforts would prevent spread to others,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.
Five people have been treated in the United States since Ebola began spreading in West Africa earlier this year, killing thousands. On Wednesday, Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, died after spending more than a week in a Dallas hospital.
Duncan, 42, had been on a respirator and was receiving dialysis and an experimental antiviral drug.
An NBC cameraman who was in West Africa covering the outbreak remains hospitalized in Nebraska and is also receiving the same experimental treatment as Duncan.
Ebola is transmitted primarily through direct physical contact with an ill person or their bodily fluids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say Ebola patients are contagious only once they are displaying symptoms, including a fever above 101.5 degrees, severe headaches, muscle pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
County officials believe that the virus will eventually be contained in West Africa as health authorities impose tighter controls over movement for potentially infected people.
To that end, screening of air passengers entering the United States for Ebola could begin as soon as this weekend, a federal official said Wednesday.
The screening, which President Obama and CDC officials had hinted at, will include taking travelers’ temperature to detect fever, a key symptom in diagnosing infection with the Ebola virus.
L.A. County officials noted that there are no direct flights from West Africa to Los Angeles.
Times staff writers Michael Muskal and Garrett Therolf contributed to this report.
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @JosephSerna